By Eric Woodruff, CPA, CCIFP
Partner, Director of Audit & Assurance Services
As of early April, a total of nearly 400 tornadoes had swept through the nation in 2023. Since we’re in the midst of tornado season, now is a good time to discuss disaster recovery planning in general.
Every company — big or small — should annually update a written Disaster Recovery Plan with clearly prescribed procedures to mitigate major disruptions to their business.
Examples of possible disruptions to your operations that you must be prepared to respond to include:
- An IT security breach
- Natural or man-made disasters that damage or completely destroy the business building and its contents (including business records)
- Product recall
- Employee misconduct
- Loss of a key employee (incapacitation or death of owner)
Here are some of the steps you should take while developing a disaster recovery plan:
- Create a list of possible disruptions and create a sub list of respective actions in the occurrence of each
- Specific priorities should be stated:
1) Mitigate damages
2) Focus on steps to resume operations, even on an interim basis
3) Critical vendors that can help in restoration of operations
4) Steps to stabilize operations
5) Remediation steps
- Identify what is essential to day-to-day business operations and put systems in place that allow the company to continue running smoothly — such as a backup server for crucial data — how much redundancy have you built into your IT Systems?
- Compile contact information for those you should contact in the event of an emergency and identify who is responsible for making those calls.
- Assign crisis roles to particular departments or individual employees.
- Determine if a news release is warranted and prudent, and who else should be contacted.
- Determine if legal counsel is required to mitigate any legal exposures the event may have created.
- Be ready for the worst. Having multiple backup plans is prudent.
- Your plan should project how quickly you can resume operations, even if in a temporary environment.
- Most importantly, it will provide your team the confidence that your enterprise is ready for whatever the events may throw at your operations.
In times of trouble, strong leadership is critical. Calmly activating a clear recovery plan will give your team the confidence and peace of mind that you are ready to manage and move forward. Picture yourself as a coach, ready with a well thought out playbook.
Of course, the hope is that you will never have an event that triggers the use of your disaster playbook. But as the Boy Scouts motto goes … “be prepared.”