Disaster Recovery Guide

Plan Ahead to Protect Your Business

At The Hartford, we've found that over 40 percent of businesses that don't have a disaster recovery guide go out of business after a major loss, such as a fire, a break-in, or a storm. Planning ahead is one of the easiest ways to help ensure your business recovers as quickly and easily as possible. Consider these disaster recovery tips.

Focus on Prevention

  • Assess your risks and potential business impacts to determine ways you can minimize the potential for disasters in advance
  • Conduct regular audits and system checks of your fire prevention and safety systems

Appoint a Disaster Recovery Team

  • Create a team of employees who know exactly what to do during an emergency and can assess damages and implement recovery plans in the aftermath
  • Make sure you include someone from all areas of the business
  • Appoint a leader to be in charge of developing, managing and updating your disaster recovery plan

Plan for Continuity of Computer Operations

  • Take steps to protect your company's hardware and software in advance to minimize damage and loss of valuable business data
  • Hardware protection measures include surge protectors, battery backups, duplicate servers in separate locations and environmental controls
  • Software protection includes regular back-ups of software and data, virus protection, firewalls and proxy servers. Data back-ups should be stored in a safe, offsite location

Protect Vital Records

  • Consolidate important physical records and assets such as employee records, contracts, financial and insurance records, permits and other paper documents
  • Consider keeping these records offsite or storing them where they are safe, but easily accessible in case of evacuation

Establish an Emergency Communications Plan

  • Consider all the functions your business may need to perform in an emergency and the communications systems you need to support them
  • Develop a plan that includes how you will communicate with employees, families, outside safety and emergency organizations, customers, neighboring businesses and, if necessary, the media.
  • Create an internal phone tree that allows an emergency message to be passed from one employee to another
  • Talk to your communications vendors in advance about emergency response capabilities and establish a plan for prioritizing and restoring communications systems

Use the Media to Your Advantage

  • Appoint a spokesperson to speak on behalf of the company during times of crisis
  • Communicate to the public and your customers as soon as you can. Many people may just assume you are out of business permanently or temporarily after an emergency when this may not be the case
  • Create a crisis communications plan in advance to help inform the public. A good communications plan can help diffuse any misperceptions about your business and maintain your reputation with your customers, business partners and general public

Establish Recovery Procedures in Advance

  • Create a recovery analysis and planning process with goals and objectives for short- and long-term recovery
  • Ensure you have employee support in place, including medical, physical and financial support to keep your employees physically and mentally healthy and able to return to work
  • Know in advance who in your community can help during an emergency such as emergency services and neighboring businesses. Include them in your overall emergency plans and also discuss ways your business could help with recovery in a community-wide emergency

Keep Your Plan Up-to-date

  • Review and revise your plan on a regular basis (once a year)
  • Update your plan whenever there are new operations, processes equipment or materials; you change or add new sites or building layouts; you change or add new vendors; or there are major business deals such as mergers or acquisitions