Disaster preparedness for your business

Disaster Preparedness: Is Your Business Ready?

Cindy Bates, vice president of Microsoft’s US SMB Organization, gives tips on how to achieve disaster preparedness for your business.

For many businesses, disaster preparedness plans entail conducting semi-regular fire drills and making sure employees know where emergency exits are located. Unfortunately, these measures alone don’t do nearly enough to help businesses withstand the range of disasters, both physical and virtual, that they could face.

It’s easy to set aside the task of developing a disaster preparedness plan in favor of attending to more immediate business demands, especially given that Arizona isn’t a hotbed for major natural disasters. Yet, most disasters are entirely unexpected, can be localized to just one company or a handful of businesses and can be difficult if not impossible to recover from. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster and, of the remaining companies, at least 25 percent will close in two years.

Acheiving Disaster Preparedness For Your Business

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may have the hardest time recovering from disaster, since they lack many resources that keep larger companies afloat during disasters, such as a robust technology infrastructure, satellite offices and larger workforces. Fortunately, there still are many cost-effective ways SMBs can aid in disaster preparedness. The following measures are fairly simple to implement and make it a great deal easier for SMBs to endure or even prevent the unexpected:

Maintain updated technology – By simply responding promptly to technology update notices, businesses can prevent a host of virtual disasters from ever occurring in the first place. Running updated technology safeguards businesses against many of the latest security hazards and is essential to the overall health of the IT infrastructure.

Back-up data – Many disasters, whether physical or virtual, wipe out critical information stored on  business computers, so it’s important to keep all essential data backed up in some way. Replicating hard drives is one option, though this approach requires remembering to do so weekly and also removing the disk drive from the premises each night. Businesses also can opt for online backup solutions that safeguard data and make it easily accessible from remote locations. If workers rely heavily on mobile devices, look for online backup solutions for data storage on those devices as well.

Invest in cloud-based software – Cloud-based software solutions have become increasingly popular among SMBs, largely because they offer enterprise-grade capabilities at an affordable price, as well as enable employees to securely access data and programs from nearly any location and device, a capability that becomes particularly useful during disaster. Having cloud-based software in place supports business continuity when disaster strikes, providing more flexibility in terms of when and where business gets conducted.

Develop a communications plan – Planning ahead for how communications related to a disaster will be managed helps businesses act swiftly and appropriately should a disaster occur. Determine who will communicate pertinent information to employees and to such external audiences as clients, customers and partners. Also, decide which methods of communication will be used, taking into account such properties as company websites, blogs and social media platforms.

To better assess how prepared your business is for disaster, click here to access a free quiz that will help you find out just how prepared you are, or aren’t, for possible disaster. The quiz is part of Microsoft’s free, downloadable e-guide on disaster preparedness, available here.