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Ah! I didn't expect that to happen?


© Alan S.   |   Media  |   Comments
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Crisis Management is one of those things that sounds like a good idea, but is easily put off - after all, things have been fine so far, haven't they? But - just stop what you-re doing for five minutes and think how long it would take you to get your business back to normal if disaster struck. If you'd be out of action for more than 48 hours, you need to do something - now.

So what to do? Well, the first thing to do is to consider all possible causes of business breakdown - obvious things like fire and flood, but also IT-related problems (the cause of over 50% of business disasters).

For each cause, consider what you would do. In other words, make a plan. If you're completely thrown by the prospect of even thinking about it, call in an expert company to help you - it-s not that expensive, and could save your business from ruin. Make sure that everyone knows where the plan is and what their role is.

Don't forget to test your plan. It's no use trying to recover your business, only to find that all those backups you're been taking are unreadable. You do take regular backups, don't you? Ensure that you have a backup strategy in place, and consider whether you need to take daily backups (you probably do). Don't forget that you need to store them in a safe place, well away from your main site.

One company stored all their backups in a fireproof safe in their basement, only to find that a ten-day police siege prevented them for getting into the building at all. They almost went bankrupt. Talk to your local bank about safe storage of backups - they're used to keeping things secure.

Keep you plan up to date - just as you keep your anti-virus software up to date. You do have virus protection, don't you? - after all, it came with the computer. And those annoying little pop-up messages about renewing your subscription - well, you'll get round to it at some point, I'm sure.

Of course, some of your vital information is on pieces of paper, so make sure that you make off-site copies of them too. A classic example was the company who stored the only full set of their business recovery manuals in their head office. You can guess what happened next.

You may need to consider hiring equipment and premises if the disaster has been severe. Once again, take a little time now to figure out what you would do, and where you would go, if the worst happens. Specialist companies will help you here - and an enquiry will cost you nothing. You won't need to do what the large multinationals do, and keep an entire "shadow" site available, but decide what is an appropriate level of risk (and cost) for your size of business - and even a sole trader needs somewhere to work from.

Lastly, consider how you will deal with the media reaction. Reporters love a disaster, and as soon as they get a sniff of it, they'll be banging on your door. How you deal with them, at a time when you're already under stress, could affect whether your customers come back. Make sure you're properly prepared by getting your spokespeople media trained.

All of this sounds blindingly obvious, and if you're a gambler, you might decide not to bother. However, consider this - if you were to return tomorrow to find the computer on which you're reading this had disappeared, how would you cope?

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