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Posted: November 20, 2013

Preparing for the worst

Sometimes, it's the best defense

Greg Osborn

Colorado’s record-breaking fires and floods have caused businesses around the state to deal with their aftermath and, unfortunately, they’ll be doing so for many months to come.

Does your business have a disaster recovery plan that would adequately protect your organization?

There are many companies throughout Colorado that were affected by the fires and floods that can share colorful anecdotes about the perils of not planning for disasters.

How would your business continue to operate if we had no access to its building, the computers, and company records for a period of several days or even weeks?

Overall, a business can take these seven key actions to mitigate their businesses risk in a disaster:

  1. Keep off-site documents up-to-date.
  2. Invest in quality computers and technology professionals.
  3. Diligently defend the security of your network.
  4. Back up every file, every day.
  5. Write and maintain a disaster recovery plan.
  6. Train your employees.
  7. Test your disaster recovery plan.

Creating the plan should not be left up to any one member of your team. The project requires a team leader, representatives from each department, a list of individual responsibilities, and fixed due dates.

The team should meet regularly during the plan development process and then present the final plan to management.

In the event of an emergency or disaster, an effective recovery plan documents what will be done, by whom, and in what order. The plan should clearly define who is in charge of the disaster recovery before the disaster strikes.

The plan should include all documentation needed by the disaster team in the event of an emergency. The plan and related documentation must be maintained at an off-site location.
  
Documentation might include network documentation, an inventory of all software, a list of customers, and a vendor listing. All documentation must be updated on a regular basis to ensure that the correct information is available from an off-site location during a disaster.

Useful documents and information to help you create your disaster recovery plan could include the following:

  • Organization chart showing names and positions
  • Staff emergency contact information
  • List of suppliers and contact numbers
  • List of emergency services and contact numbers
  • Premises addresses and maps
  • Existing evacuation procedures and fire regulations
  • Health and safety procedures
  • Operations and administrative procedures
  • List of professional advisers and emergency contact information
  • Personnel administrative procedures
  • Copies of floor plans
  • Asset inventories
  • Inventories of information assets
  • IT inventories
  • IT system specification
  • Communication system specification
  • Copies of maintenance agreements / service level agreements
  • Off-site storage procedures
  • Relevant industry regulations and guidelines
  • Insurance information

The recent fires and floods have taught us the importance of being well-prepared for the potential impact of a disaster. No one knows when disaster will strike. Our best, and sometimes only defense, is to be prepared.

Greg Osborn, CPA is the managing partner of RubinBrown’s Denver Office.  RubinBrown is one of Denver’s largest accounting and consulting firms. Greg can be reached at 303.952.1250 or at greg.osborn@rubinbrown.com.

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