All shook up; The power of Mother Nature

Things got off to a shaky start a couple of weeks ago when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the upper South and lower North Islands, leaving a trail of damage and disruption in its wake.

Reminiscent of the chaos and disruption suffered in the Christchurch earthquakes, Wellington experienced some of the similar after effects with several large office buildings evacuated, some now planned for demolition.

It is a timely reminder of how critical it is to have plans in place for unforeseen disruptions to your business.

SuiteFiles one of our key suppliers is based in Wellington, and not only has plans and systems in place to deal with such a disaster internally but have developed a cloud based File Management System that reduces the need for businesses to have their electronic documents stored on physical locally based IT equipment that is particularly susceptible to such disasters.

Back up and running after a disaster

For those of us based in Christchurch it was a timely reminder of the power of mother nature.  This isn’t the first time that an earthquake has adversely affected Wellington either. In 2013, a strong quake hit the capital and prevented businesses from accessing both buildings and servers. Just like then, being cloud-based has significantly helped SuiteFiles get back on their feet quickly.

This recent experience is a timely reminder about how dependent we are all on technology and the criticality of having a good disaster recovery plan in place.

A disaster recovery plan should form one part of your overarching business continuity plan, and focuses mainly on restoring IT infrastructure and operations after a disaster.

These plans are vital, and could mean the difference between being back to business as usual in 2 hours or in 2 months. We know which one we’d prefer.

Making a disaster recovery plan

If you don’t have a business continuity plan or feel like your one needs a refresh, there are plenty of . Having all your key information in one document will make it easier to put your plan into action after a crisis.

Based on our experience, here are some useful starting points for your business continuity/disaster recovery plan:

1. List of key staff members and their responsibilities right after a disaster

Decide who key people in your organization are and what their responsibilities will be after a crisis – who will oversee communicating with and updating staff, who will check the business premises and IT, etc. Lay this out in a clear chart with staff member names, contact details, addresses and responsibilities.

2. A clear communication plan

Have contact details and addresses for all staff members. Have a checklist to ensure you’ve checked in with everyone and that you provide regular updates. Have an emergency contact person for staff.

3. Plan for where and how staff will work

Make sure that all staff know what the next steps for the business are. After the earthquake, we know of people who traveled into the city (through flooding no less!) only to find out their building was closed. Can staff work remotely and do they have adequate resources to do this, like hardware or access to documents?

4. Comprehensive process for IT health check

Take stock of your hardware and IT infrastructure – determine a list of critical functions and the steps you’ll need to take to get those up and running again.

It almost goes without saying, but you should store your plan somewhere that is accessible to you after a disaster. All staff, particularly ones with core responsibilities, should be familiar with the document and know how to access it.

Finally test your plan to find gaps in your processes, and make sure you review it regularly, especially as staff and technology changes.

Kindly provided by our Partners at SuiteFiles.

Do you have a disaster recovery and/or business continuity plan?

Contact one of our team if you have any questions about how robust your systems are to cope with a significant disaster.

HINT – don’t take the approach of it won’t happen to me.