Today, tens of thousands of Mexico’s Pacific coast residents are being evacuated as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere approaches the coast. According to USA Today, Hurricane Patricia* will cause power outages that will last for weeks to possibly months. Individuals and businesses of all sizes are frantically preparing for the storm, which grew overnight from a tropical storm to a category-5 hurricane.
While the impact of natural disasters only accounts for 5 percent of blows to SMBs- they can be far more damaging than other common contributors, such as hardware failure, human error, and software corruption. After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, for example, 60 percent of Mississippi’s small businesses closed, according to the director of the Mississippi Small Business Development Center. So how do natural disasters such as this affect businesses, and what can business leaders to do prepare?
Without efficient and reliable communications systems in place, businesses risk having a significant downturn in productivity until power is restored. One key part to minimizing potential losses that come with any weather-related event (anticipated or not) is having an adequate business continuity plan. A study by Touch Ross indicates that less than 10 percent of companies without a disaster recovery plan are able to survive in the event of a catastrophe. Having this plan in place not only minimizes financial loss, but can also give your business an advantage over unprepared competitors. When developing a successful plan, consider the following:
- Conduct a complete systems analysis for your company and determine risks, costs, acceptable downtimes and priorities for recovery.
- Gain management buy-in for your plan by quantifying the cost of downtime and walking key decision makers through specific scenarios.
- Train your staff to the point where the plan can be done easily.
- Document every detail including where all tools and equipment are located; this is important in case the person responsible for a certain task is not available and an untrained person has to take over.
- Practice, practice, and then practice again so there are no surprises when a real event occurs.
The other part of reducing the impact from a natural disaster is utilizing technology to help avoid mass productivity losses. The technology that has become a force in the disaster recovery industry is Cloud.
Moving your database, communications, and other vital systems to the Cloud, or off-site hosted environments, removes the risk from local weather issues and allows you to take advantage of high-availability data centers all over the country. Cloud allows your systems to be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection so you can stay on top of business in the event of an emergency.
In addition to the tips above, take a few minutes to listen to a webcast we did on how to “Winterize your Office,” which is useful information to use in any type of weather event. The webcast discusses the following:
- How to deal with power outages
- What a disaster recovery plan should look like
- Tips to help build a productive remote workforce
- Tools to manage while working from home
When you register to view the webcast, you’ll also get access to our free ebook that contains additional tips for emergency preparedness.
*As a communications company, any time an area is faced with a natural disaster it is a reminder as to the benefits of disaster recovery planning. Our thoughts go out to our customers, distributors, and friends in Mexico who will be affected by this hurricane- and to those who have put their sweat and tears into building their businesses only to have them impacted or even destroyed by natural disasters such as this. We are hopeful any damage is minimal and all are safe.
For more information about Disaster Recovery, watch our UT Tech Chat Video!