How to Write a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Business

Disaster Recovery Plan: The Essentials

disaster recovery plan is a document that details how your business will recover from a catastrophic event. All businesses need a disaster recovery plan, but developing one that is all-encompassing and detailed is a step many businesses fail to take.

There are many different types catastrophic events. We are going to focus on creating a disaster recovery plan that you can use if you lose your office but not the production capabilities of your business—for example, our scenario involves a fire that destroys the business offices but not the factory.

Make a List of Critical Jobs

Writing the Disaster Recovery Plan. Getty Images

The first step in creating a disaster recovery plan is to make a list of all the office jobs that would have to be relocated to an alternate location so the business can continue to run. Mark with a star or asterisk those jobs that you would consider critical if you were in a disaster recovery situation. Which jobs do you need up and functioning as soon as possible? For example, customer service representatives and accounting personnel should be marked as critical, while telemarketing people making outbound sales calls should not.

Inventory Necessary Office Equipment

Office Equipment
Office Equipment. Getty Images

For each employee, list only the essential office equipment and furniture that they need to perform their jobs. Remember, in the event of a disaster, space, money and time will be at a premium. Concentrate on the truly necessary items and not every item they currently use. The disaster recovery list could include the following:

  • Desk and chair
  • Computer
  • Computer software
  • Telephone
  • Calculator
  • Cash register

Inventory Supporting Equipment

Man in office on the phone
Worker using office phone. Reza Estakhrian/Stone/Getty Images

Next, take a look at the essential office equipment that is used behind-the-scenes. The telephone on the service representatives' desks need to connect to the phone network. The computers in the office must connect to some sort of server or application that allows orders to be taken, materials to be shipped, services to be performed, invoices to be mailed and payroll to be met. Walk around your office and you will see the things that tie your business together.

Your disaster recovery list may include the following items:

  • Servers
  • Server software
  • Data backups
  • Business phone system
  • Office safe
  • Daily start up cash drawer money

Plan for Alternate Office Space

Vacant Office Space
Vacant Office Space. Cultura/James French Getty Images

Now that you have a list of people, furniture and equipment, you will need a physical place to put them. This does not mean that you have to rent office space and let it sit empty. What it does mean is that you should have already researched several alternative places to relocate your office in the event of a disaster.

Alternatives can include any or all of the following:

  • Local real estate agent with a list of vacant office spaces available
  • An agreement with a neighboring business to share office space if a disaster strikes
  • A relocation option within your company (for example, relocation to an empty part of the warehouse)
  • A plan that allows employees to telecommute to work until the office is restored

Insurance and Budget

Are you visualizing you money saving ideas correctly?.

After you decide where to put people, you will need to start buying them the stuff they need to do their jobs.

From the list of necessary office equipment that you created in step two, start estimating how much each piece will cost to buy or lease. The time spent up front on this task will shave days off of the recovery process because you will be able to provide a list to your insurance agent detailing exactly what you need. You will have a check sooner that will allow you to start buying furniture and equipment immediately.

Share It and Store It Offsite

email illustration

The best disaster recovery plan won't do you any good if it gets burned up in the fire or nobody can find it. The best strategy is to share it with at least one other person in your business and make sure at least one copy is stored offsite.

When you are sure that all your employees are safe and sound after a disaster strikes, implementing your disaster recovery plan should be your first order of business. A timely and well-planned recovery can make the difference between bankruptcy and survival of your business.

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