Five tips to develop a disaster recovery plan

Five tips to develop a disaster recovery plan for professionals

It is essential that all professional firms - however large or small - develop a disaster recovery plan. A disaster such as a flood, fire or computer virus attack can cripple your operations, meaning that your business’ resources could be limited for a significant period of time.

 During this time, projects can be delayed and the quality of work may suffer, which can lead to strained client relationships.

Without an effective disaster recovery plan in place, a short-term problem can rapidly evolve into a long-term financial disaster for your firm.

In spite of this, few companies take the time to put together an all-encompassing disaster recovery plan. The key is to have a tried and tested plan in place that will stop the disaster causing further issues for your firm. Here are five tips to develop a disaster recovery plan.

Draft an emergency response checklist

An emergency response checklist should detail who in the firm should be notified following the disaster and the measures that should be taken to minimise the effects (for example, turning the water off at the stop tap following a burst pipe).

If you have employees, ensure they have a copy of the plan and consider running drills annually for staff to familiarise themselves with their roles. Also include contact details for all employees and key suppliers.

Regularly backup data

Every firm has different types of data, but almost all hold some form of confidential customer data or business critical project. Take a look at your current backup procedures and consider implementing both online and offline solutions that will keep your business running if a virus were to wipe out your primary storage device. Regardless of the solution you choose, ensure backups are carried out on a regular basis (at least once a day) and can be accessed away from your usual place of work.

Make arrangements for working off-site

Floods and fires can be devastating for your firm and severely disrupt your operations. If your firm works from an office complex, think about arranging emergency office space as a backup. Although many think emergency offices are a luxury for large firms, there are companies that offer disaster recovery solutions specially designed for small businesses where (should a disaster occur) you would have access to internet, telephones and other utilities.

If you’d rather not bear the costs of an emergency office, consider implementing a remote working solution so that staff can access work files and emails from home.

Keep clients informed

You may want to inform your clients of the disaster, depending on its scale. While it’s always sensible to assure them it is business as usual, being up front with them about the situation can strengthen the relationship and they may be more understanding about the resource difficulties posted by the situation. Make sure you give customers additional telephone numbers (mobile and temporary landline) and email addresses they can reach you on until your operations are back to normal.

Insure

If you own an office building, you are likely to have buildings and contents insurance in place, which covers against a number of disasters including flood, fire and theft.

However, there are other less well known covers that can minimise the financial impact on your firm following a disaster.

Business interruption insurance can cover the loss of income, or increased costs in working, as a result of a disaster. This could be, for example, if your business is unable to trade following a fire, or has to rent a temporary office premises following a flood. Considering it can take weeks for an office building to dry out following a flood, business interruption cover could save your business thousands if there was a disruption. Find out more about our office insurance.

Professional indemnity insurance covers against allegations of negligence in your work. Managing client relationships can be particularly difficult following an unexpected disaster, and if your firm misses a deadline which costs your client money, they may take legal action to recover their losses. Professional indemnity can cover the legal fees in defending your claim, in addition to the costs in putting the mistake right. Find out more about our PI insurance.

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