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Lights, Camera, Action!

We spend considerable time planning for disasters. We create elaborate Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans that include everything but the kitchen sink. But when disaster actually strikes, what we really need is action.

No document can ever address each and every possible scenario, so we need to focus on the key tasks to get the organization back up and running. A stripped down “Action Plan” version of your BC and DR plans is essential when the time comes for it to actually be implemented. How do we decide what is most important?  What do we REALLY need to include in an “Action Plan”?

Firstly, it can’t comprise 500 pages. When time is of the essence, your team needs to be able to find information quickly and efficiently. The Action Plan needs to be easily navigated with a clear Table of Contents and a streamlined design.

While every organization is unique, one thing is clear: the most important resource in any business is certainly its people. Employees will be needed to execute the plan. We will need to contact the critical members of our team. But who are they, and how do we get in touch with them?

The first element of an action plan needs to be these key people. Who is the leader (and his or her backup) and how do we let them know that the plan needs to be executed?

We then need to let the rest of the company know that an event has occurred that may put them at risk, or at least necessitate a change in their daily routine. The Action Plan should include instructions for getting in touch with employees, vendors and customers. Is there a notification system in place that needs to be activated?  Should a message be posted to the Intranet?  Is there an email blast that should be sent?  Or, do we need to rely on old-fashioned call trees?

Unfortunately, we can’t always count on the prearranged team members to be available, nor being able to walk into the office to find someone else who can step in to their shoes with ease. We need to be sure to include alternate contacts in our plans, and make all instructions clear and concise so that anyone in the organization can complete the necessary tasks.

Next, where do we need to go to continue our operations?  Is there an alternate site?  If so, include instructions on where it is and how to contact any pertinent parties to get things up and running and start procuring and necessary supplies and equipment. In case of a site disaster, safety is of the utmost importance. An Action Plan should include rally points, escape routes or other pertinent site based information.

Thirdly, it is essential to understand what our most critical processes are, including any dependent applications or software. There should be specific tasks for each team to start getting them back up and running. Each critical process should have a high-level account of the steps needed for recovery. Any member of the team should be able to complete any task based on the instructions laid out in the plan. We should also include information as to where any critical data is backed up, and how to access it remotely.

Also important is to alert any vital Vendors and Customers to the current status of the situation and how they can keep in touch. We should have alternate vendors in place in the event that a disaster affects the supply chain.  Include contact information for them as well, and any information needed regarding your account.

Lastly, we need to distribute the plan and ensure that team members are aware of it and know how to access it.  Key personnel should have copies stored at alternate sites or on flash drives that they keep with them.  The best way to guarantee access during any event though is to store plans in a cloud based system that is accessible anywhere, anytime!  Visit www.bcinthecloud.com to learn more.