Last Friday I wrote the introduction to this new series, Friction Fridays. In that introduction I ‘rubbed you raw’ (over the coals so to speak) about how you and your business stood when it came to being ‘disaster ready.’
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a campaign called ‘Red Dirt Ready’ aimed at getting the public ready for such emergencies, in much the same way when they were known as ‘Civil Defense’ back years ago, they got all of us ready for ‘nuclear attacks’ by teaching us as school children to ‘duck and cover’. I think they still take many of the same approaches to modern day emergencies as they did way back when.
Hopefully everyone understood the take away from last week was, "if you are not ready for a disaster you need to get ready, and if you have not developed a disaster recovery plan you better plan for a disaster now."
I promised you last week that Friction Fridays would not be purely ‘frictional’ events; in other words we won’t just pick on you all the time, we will sometimes try to help you out with meaningful advice or instructions on the topics we have harped on. So in keeping with that promise, and last week’s topic of disaster in the workplace and the lack of disaster recovery plans, here are some tips you should consider incorporating into your Disaster Recovery Plan regarding only one single area (topic) in such a plan.
Disaster Recovery Plan - Topic 1: Recovery Location
Recover in Place or Somewhere Else
Will you be able to ‘recover’ in your original location, or will you need to find a new and or temporary location in which to recover? Obviously this will vary with the type, nature and extent of the disaster as it impacts your original location.
1) Your facility might be totally destroyed, as is a large portion of the surrounding area. You may have to relocate to an entirely different area or even a neighboring community.
- Can you easily and quickly find a relocation facility to meet your requirements?
- How will the distance or proximity of such a relocation impact your staff, customers and suppliers?
2) Your facility might be severely damaged, but you believe it is possible to salvage most of your essential business assets and records, and then relocate temporarily to an adjacent area, until repairs are made.
- How will you conduct salvage and asset relocation? Have you identified the necessary resources to assist with such a logistical requirement?
- Can you easily secure necessary redirects of telephone, internet, and mail service?
3) Your facility might be just fine, without any (or little) damage and you could get along at that location except for the fact that normal utilities have been shut-off and/or access is extremely limited due to surrounding damage.
- How would limited access impact your business operations?
- Do you have an emergency generator with fuel supply that can last for 7 to 10 days and/or can the generator be refueled by a local or neighboring provider?
- How could you accommodate a loss of ‘land-line’ and/or internet communications impacting your location?
- Would it be possible to allow employees to work from alternative locations, such as their home? Would they have access to centralized information necessary to do their work, such as a ‘cloud-based’ server rather than a facility based server?
Choosing an Alternate Location (Temporary or Permanent)
The reality is that you might just have to find another place to do business, either on a temporary or permanent basis. You ability to quickly find such a location, and relocate, can significantly impact your business continuity.
1) Proximity to current location(s)
- Is the location sufficiently proximate to your original location so as to not seriously compromise employees, customers and vendors? At the same time, is it sufficiently far enough away to not be impacted by service outages and disaster recovery operations taking place within impacted areas?
- Is there good access and transportation resources?
2) Layout and organizational balance
- Is the location configured in a fashion similar to your original location so as to maintain the organization layout and normal workflows, or will it be necessary to adjust the organizational dynamics to accommodate the location layout?
- Will employees be able to work the same shift and/or work schedule in the new location, or will the relocation mean that shift and scheduling changes will impact workers?
- If a smaller temporary facility is selected, will employees be given the opportunity to work from home or an alternative location? If so, is the organization prepared to support such off-site/remote-access?
- Will additional space be required, in excess to normal work space, in order to provide a location for the ‘recovery and restoration’ of company assets damaged but recoverable. For example, the ‘drying’ of soaked papers, or reorganization of files?
3) Technological considerations
- What systems are needed in the new location? Can existing equipment be relocated, or must new (replacement) equipment and software be acquired? If new assets must be acquired, how quickly can you such hardware/software be replaced?
- Can new equipment be configured using back-up data from an off-site/cloud-based resource?
- Is there sufficient communications and internet service capabilities so your operations are not compromised?
- If some employees will be working offsite during this temporary situation, do you have the appropriate technology to support remote-access to essential business data and software?
Next Friday we will look at additional aspects (plan topics) of a Disaster Recovery Plan, as if even more of these questions and tips won’t rub you raw. By the way, if you have a ‘disaster recovery’ experience, big or small, we want to hear about it. Drop us a comment, I am certain our readers would love to know how you dug yourself out of disaster.