Posted on October 4, 2007
Filed Under (Advice) by jennifer

Is your business prepared for the worst? Do you feel confident that in the event of a fire, flood, or other natural or man-made disaster your business could continue to receive and ship orders, service customers, and ensure that employees, equipment, and merchandise were safe and protected?

Whether or not your business is located in a flood, tornado, or hurricane zone, or a city that could be targeted by terrorists, you need a good continuance plan to ensure you stay in business – and/or get back to normal quickly – if or when a disaster strikes.

For the October issues of Multichannel Merchant, I spoke with experts in business continuity planning and some small and mid-sized businesses to find out how they survived disasters, from a flood caused by a broken fire hydrant to Hurricane Katrina. I also found some great online resources – including www.ready.gov/america/_downloads/sampleplan.pdf and www.fema.gov/business/guide/index.shtm – to help you put together a business continuity/disaster recovery plan.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Back up data daily to a server located in a secure site, at least 50 miles away from your primary location or any flood or tornado zones.

  • If you manage your Website inhouse, have a backup server and someone who can administer the site in the event your primary location or power goes down.

  • Make sure each department head has an emergency contact list with the names and numbers of all employees, vendors, and partners — and that all employees know where to go and who to contact in case of a facility shutdown.

  • If your business takes orders over the phone or has phone-based customer service, implement a backup phone service. This might be an emergency call center that will take calls and orders and give out critical information in the event of an emergency.

  • If your business does have to shut down — even briefly — immediately post information, including an emergency call-in number, on your Website and inform your call center, if you have one, so that customers, employees, vendors and other concerned parties know what’s going on and how to contact you or get information about their orders.

  • Distribute your plan to all department heads and post it online (securing the information with a password so employee information is not exposed).

And remember: Review your plan regularly and test it if you can.

To learn more, read my article, “Batten down the hatches.”

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