They say that the road to an unhappy life is to play the “What-If” game. This is where you take a situation and overanalyze it to try and figure out what you would do if several different events took place. You can easily get caught up in a vortex and waste a lot of time worrying about something that may never happen. Great advice for your personal life but awful advice for your business. When it comes to keeping your business operational you want to welcome the vortex. You need to play the “What-If” game. Disaster recovery and business continuity planning is one of the best ways to prepare your business for the “What-If”s. We have done this at Noble-Davis Consulting and would like to share some of the steps we took to help you with your own plan.

In its simplest form, a disaster recovery plan is a list of what needs to be done if an event takes place and disrupts your business for an undetermined amount of time. It does not have to be fancy or overly complicated. Depending on the type of business, it can be a single sheet of paper with a list of who to call. The underlying idea is to outline what actions to perform to restore your business process.

So, how do you get started? First, list all of your business processes. Business processes might include an assembly line you use to manufacture a product or a service that you offer to your clients. Under each process, list what resources are needed to perform it. Resources could include people, computers, raw materials, electricity, or tools. While listing your resources you will quickly realize that a lot of your processes use the same ones. Once your resource list is complete you can start to rank them from most important to least important. The most important resources are those that prohibit you from keeping a process functional if it were missing. For example, an accounting firm may rank people or software very high since a shortage or outage would stop them from providing their services. A manufacturer may rank electricity very high since their machinery cannot produce parts or product without it.

Now that you have a complete list of your vital resources, it’s time to play the “What-If” game. For each resource, brainstorm how it could stop functioning, thus causing one of your business processes to stop. For example, if a vital resource is a piece of equipment, then you would want to think about how it might break down. Is there a motor on it that could overheat or fuses that could blow if it gets jammed? Is it near an alleyway near forklift traffic? What if someone runs into it? If you provide a service, then a vital resource could be your website. What do you do if it is suddenly unreachable by your clients?

Once you have a list of causes of disruption for each resource, you can start to plan how to handle each one. It might be as simple as a call to GoDaddy or as complicated as calling a team together to tear a piece of equipment apart. Either way, you will start to see the formation of your Business Continuity Plan as you tackle each scenario. You will also start to see actions you can take now to minimize the loss of a resource. For example, we have a portable generator on site to keep our servers running in case we lose power for an extended period.

The last bit of advice we can give is to make your Continuity Plan a living document. Review it annually and revise it when necessary. Take the opportunity to make sure your plan is up to date and includes any service or personnel changes. A lot can change over a year.

If you found this article helpful and are thinking about staring your own plan, feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to help you keep your business running.