As I work from home today, I can't help but be distracted by yet another neighbor's tree trimming company sawing away in preparation for the 2023 Hurricane Season. It’s that time of year in South Florida— when we all check Mike’s Weather Page every day, when we wonder where we left the lug nuts for the hurricane shutters from last year, when we start wondering how much ice is too much ice to hoard in the freezer. But as a business owner, you need to consider not only your assets, but those of your employees and your clients as well.
Last year was pretty mild in South Florida. Not too much to worry about. Hurricane Nicole did hit the Daytona coast, but didn't impact Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County businesses. But remember devastating category 5 hurricane Michael that hit the panhandle several seasons ago? As of October 17, 2018, about 68,579 Florida businesses had been impacted by Hurricane Michael across 12 counties per reports from FEMA. Someday that could be your business.
- Back up your data. Are you sure that your current IT provider is backing up your data every day? How much would it cost your organization to lose 3 days, 5 days or 10 days worth of work? At Capstone IT, our client’s data is backed up throughout each work day and we are monitoring our back-ups 24/7. Since this global pandemic hit, we have been talking more and more to clients about cloud backups. If you don’t need to keep a server onsite, we can help you ensure that you have great backups in case of a hurricane emergency, with your data accessible to employees working from anywhere that still has power and internet.
- Make sure your servers are off the floor or in the cloud. If your office gets flooded, having your equipment off the floor can prevent it from being completely destroyed. Server racks can be purchased and installed very inexpensively. Or consider moving your critical server equipment to the cloud and be protected no matter the weather!
- Prepare a plan and communicate it with staff. Business continuity is our common goal. Although we can have advanced warning of a storm threat, if a contingency plan is not in place, no one will know where to begin. Some things to think about are selecting essential backup data, accessing remote equipment, assigning tasks for key personnel, and communicating the plans. Document this plan. Make sure to include alternative phone numbers for texting and calling, and email addresses. Practicing this plan with all staff, whether long standing employees or new hires is essential to its success.
- Protect your site. Stock up on hurricane supply items specific to your business. To restore operations quickly in the event of a hurricane, businesses should consider back-up source of electricity like battery back-ups or generators. If the air conditioning is not operating, consider a way to shut down computer systems to keep them from overheating. Invest in quality hurricane shutters to protect windows. Have an established outsourced team ready to prepare your place of business in the case that you or your employees are unable to help at your site.
- Be in touch with both vendors and clients. Communication is the toughest part of keeping business moving forward during and after a hurricane. Assign staff to deal with vendors in the days ahead for any services or items that you may need in the case of a hurricane. Likewise, communicate with clients and share with them your plan for maintaining business operations. They will appreciate transparency and will feel more secure if they know you are thinking ahead.
- Practice! Test your system at least once a year before hurricane season hits to ensure that your processes, procedures, and technologies are all working together to ensure your business continuity plans will work if you need them.
At Capstone IT, we make these considerations a priority with our clients. Please call us for a free consultation on disaster preparedness in your organization