10 tips to make sure you are ready when a disaster strikes

Here are 10 absolute basics your Business Impact Analysis plan should cover

Business Impact Analysis
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BIA

Start with a business impact analysis (BIA). This will identify the business's most crucial systems and processes and the effect an outage would have on the business. The greater the potential impact, the more money a company should spend to restore a system or process quickly.

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Succesion plan

Develop and practice a contingency plan that includes a succession plan for your CEO.

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Training

Train backup employees to perform emergency tasks. The employees you count on to lead in an emergency will not always be available.

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Crisis meeting places

Determine offsite crisis meeting places and crisis communication plans for top executives. Practice crisis communication with employees, customers and the outside world.

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Walkie-talkies?

Invest in an alternate means of communication in case the phone networks go down.

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Practice makes perfect

Make sure that all employees - as well as executives - are involved in the exercises so that they get practice in responding to an emergency.

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It seems so real

Make business continuity exercises realistic enough to tap into employees' emotions so that you can see how they'll react when the situation gets stressful.

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Partnerships

Form partnerships with local emergency response groups—firefighters, police and EMTs—to establish a good working relationship. Let them become familiar with your company and site.

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Up to snuff?

Evaluate your company's performance during each test, and work toward constant improvement. Continuity exercises should reveal weaknesses

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Test regularly

Test your continuity plan regularly to reveal and accommodate changes. Technology, personnel and facilities are in a constant state of flux at any company.

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Read on

For more details, see this book excerpt on business impact analysis, including a sample BIA form.