There are many types of disasters that can jeopardize a business and its employees. The type of disaster a business encounters will determine which actions that business must take. If there is a fire or a disaster that is a danger to the building, for example, then you must first evacuate the employees to the designated meeting zones. However, if there is an environmental or weather-related event, then evacuating the building is likely not a good idea (and could actually put your employees at greater risk for harm).
The next important step of any disaster recovery plan is to evaluate the disaster level before enabling the actions of your business continuity plan. It is possible that the event is not a risk to any employees and the business impact is within an acceptable period. If so, then the priority becomes resolving the issue in order to resume business operations.
For disasters that are threat to your corporate office, here are a few steps to follow:
Step No. 1: Follow your company evacuation plans to make sure everyone is out of the facility and safe.
Step No. 2: Once at the designated evacuation meeting points, perform a head count of your employees to verify that no one is left behind.
Step No. 3: Inform local officials of your employee head count and the status of the building.
Step No. 4: If the disaster is likely to cause significant damage to the data center, begin implementing IT failover and recovery plans.
Step No. 5: Contact recovery vendors of status and ask if they can offer assistance. If you don't have a hot site, then you may need to have archived tape delivered-which could take 24 hours.
Step No. 6: Head to the co-location, disaster recovery or hot site available to begin restoration of business-critical applications.
Step No. 7: Communicate. Notify executives and employees of the plans and the length of time it may take to recover.
Step No. 8: Begin restoration of those services that are required to resume business operations to a functional level.
Step No. 9: After emergency officials have deemed it is safe and acceptable to do so, return to the corporate office to evaluate data center damage (once backup systems are operational).
Step No. 10: Verify your insurance coverage, and determine what damaged hardware, software and/or infrastructure may need to be replaced, and compile a full list. The insurance company will want to see this as well as the replacement cost.
Follow the 10 steps just outlined for disasters that are a threat to your corporate office. Since disasters can and do happen, it's critical to have a business continuity and disaster recovery plan like this in place-before you need it.
Brace Rennels is a Professional Services Project Manager at Double-Take Software, and a Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP). He has been involved with over 1,600 disaster recovery installations. He is responsible for managing the message of the professional services organization, the partner channel/OEM-related services activities, and the implementation of new service programs to drive company sales. Previously, Brace was manager of technical consulting services at OpenPages, Inc. He trained staff on how to conduct and develop Risk and Business Impact Analysis for clients. He was also a Solution Architect for designing enterprise publishing, print and Web solutions. He created the business model, methodology and mission statement for the Technical Consulting Services.
Before OpenPages, Brace worked for General Data Services as a Senior Systems Engineer. There he performed Business Impact Analysis to assist architects for enterprise-wide solutions involving hardware, software and business processes. He was awarded the Professional Services Contributor of the Quarter award for outstanding efforts in FY99. He can be reached at email@example.com.