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Five Tips for Business Continuity Planning: Part 3- Disaster Recovery Communications & Thinking Outside of the Box

Tip #3 Over Communicate Your Small Business Disaster Recovery Plans.

Communicate what you learn in the disaster recovery planning process. Within your company, get employee agreement on your small business continuity plan. Let associates customers know that you've rehearsed disaster response techniques. Publish plans during times of potential disaster that instruct customers where to go for updates. Communicate changes to disaster recovery plans for your small business as they happen.

Use the media, e-mail, newsletters, your Web site and staff meetings to communicate disaster recovery plans to employees and customers. Press releases help your customers find alternate locations and provide updates to disaster-related services.

Faced without phone lines during Katrina, "We used our Web site to communicate with members," says Vicki O'Brien, CEO of Jefferson Parish Employees Federal Credit Union (Jefferson, La.). "We informed members beforehand to watch the site for disaster recovery updates."

Also, let customers know if you've waived fees, bills or deadlines in the event of a disaster. Release information often and provide regular updates to keep small business continuity planning at top of mind as well.

Tip #4 Think Outside of the Box When Planning for a Disaster.

"Instant Messaging and Text Messaging saved us during Katrina," says Palermo VP of Marketing, SunGard. "And satellite phones may work when challenged with clogged cell phone lines." Collect e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers and pager numbers from employees and customers as part of your planning process.

An alternate meeting location provides a place for employees to meet and hear disaster updates. Tankeloff explains "We've found setting up a place to rendezvous in a local hotel to be a lifesaver. In addition, providing a place for employees to stay with their families helped lessen their anxiety."

Ensure that employees can access core systems from offsite locations through trial runs. But like Jefferson Parish, you may find yourself going back to the basics, says O'Brien. "Without electricity, we relied on paper and currency to service members."

Identify and organize essentials in case of a disaster. Store items including cell phones, radios, bottled water and generators in a secure location that is easily accessible in an emergency.

Reprinted from an article I wrote for
Credit Union Business magazine in August, 2006.

Post your favorite small business disaster recovery planning tips.


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