Blog & Tools

Five steps businesses can take to prepare for disaster

Up to 40 percent of businesses disrupted by natural disasters or human-caused problems never reopen, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Customers probably will sympathize with a business that gets shut down, but if they have to wait too long for a needed product or service, they are likely to go to a competitor.

SDN Communications of Sioux Falls has devoted a lot of recent attention to helping businesses plan for business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR).

A recent Uptime University information session hosted by SDN focused on BCDR. A free resource mentioned at the forum ­– the website – is worth checking out, especially by small and midsize businesses in the early stages of making or reviewing plans.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency launched the Ready Business campaign a decade ago specifically to assist small and midsize businesses. It is part of a larger campaign designed to help Americans prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Businesses can do a lot to prepare in advance and improve their chances of surviving hazards such as floods, tornadoes, outbreaks of serious illness, and human violence. outlines five steps businesses can take to develop their preparedness. The first suggested step is to get the support and a financial commitment of your organization’s leadership.

“Without management commitment and financial support, it will be difficult to build the program, maintain resources and keep the program up-to-date,” according to the site.

An important component of the first step is to identify regulations that affect your organization. Complying with regulations serves as a minimum basic standard.

Plan, implement, test, improve

After an organization has committed to the process, it can begin to develop its strategy. Here are highlights of the next four steps suggested by

  • Plan: Gather information about potential hazards. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis. Examine ways to reduce risks.
  • Implement: Draft a preparedness plan that addresses topics such as resource management, emergency responses, crisis communications, and employee assistance.
  • Test: Conduct exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of your plan.
  • Improve: Review the plan periodically and make necessary adjustments to the program.

Corrective actions should be ranked in importance.

“All program gaps or deficiencies are not equally important. Prioritization of corrective actions is helpful because funding and time are usually limited. Prioritization can also identify significant deficiencies that should be reported to management and corrected as quickly as possible,” according to the website.

The overall approach suggested by covers many of the same general areas of concern included in SDN's BCDR planning. The company believes business continuity and disaster recovery plans are absolutely critical to the long-term success of most companies.

For general information about the advice, products and services SDN can provide to help small and midsize businesses keep their data secure in times of disaster, see or call 800-247-1442.

SDN hosted Gary Duncan, a BCDR expert, at its Uptime University. Duncan shared the numerous lessons learned during and after the May 22, 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, Watch Duncan's full presentation below.