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Recently we’ve seen some major thunderstorms in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and several areas were left without power for a few days. Disasters can often come unannounced and no one is immune to a possible terrorist attack or a computer virus. When a business gets disrupted from an IT standpoint, it can cause major loss and chaos. In order to deal with business disasters, a company must have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place.

There are 6 general steps involved in creating a BCP:

1. Identify the scope of the plan.
2. Identify key business areas.
3. Identify critical functions.
4. Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
5. Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
6. Create a plan to maintain operations.

Employees in IT, human resources, business and security must all be planned for and work together, knowing their roles in a disaster. Employees must understand how critical IT is to continuity as well. All workers must know their roles ahead of time to ensure the best flow of business continuity.

For each type of disaster there are different possible outcomes that need to be assessed. Personal injury should be first and emergency arrangements need to be put into place. Individual employee situations must be taken into account, with considerations as to why they may not be able to return to work immediately.

All workers must know their role and what is expected of them in this situation. One way to do this is to set up a remote access technology so workers can continue to do their jobs. The technology should enable staff to connect to their work stations or desktop from an alternate location or even their homes to remain in touch with company operations. They should additionally be able to remain in touch with all co-workers to continue collaboration. Keep in mind that they will need access to all files and applications on their computers that might not be part of a corporate network. Employees need instructions on who ranks in importance and who to contact first in terms of customers, vendors, investors, partners and VIPs.

Disaster drills that are a surprise and realistic are a helpful part of the plan as the company will know how the staff will react physically and emotionally. The employees will get a chance to practice their roles and how to use the remote access, and be evaluated on their performance. The drills will point out what areas of the business continuity plan need to be changed and what aspects work well.

Business continuity plans are important and it is best if they are handled by professionals. Work with a reliable managed services provider and they will ensure your business is ready to operate when faced with any kind of disaster or problem.