Prepare Plan of Action to Deal with Disasters; Association of British Insurers

By Moore, Suzanne | The Birmingham Post (England), February 24, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Prepare Plan of Action to Deal with Disasters; Association of British Insurers


Moore, Suzanne, The Birmingham Post (England)


Insurance policies are designed to protect you from financial losses after "disasters" like floods, fires and thefts.

But, however well-insured an organisation is, even if it has business interruption insurance managers will always need to spend time and effort making sure things get back to normal as quickly as possible.

A good disaster management plan will help them to do this with as little disruption as possible to the normal running of the organisation.

To a certain extent, disaster recovery is a type of risk management, but it differs in a very crucial way. The risk being managed is the risk that an organisation will suffer long-term damage from an event that has already happened.

To be really effective, a disaster recovery plan must be carefully prepared and put in place long before the "disaster" itself actually occurs.

Some of the main points to be considered are relocation, informing staff, computer systems and information, and office equipment.

If a building is so badly damaged that the organisation can no longer operate from it, temporary offices will need to be set up elsewhere while repairs are carried out.

Ideally, managers should arrange a suitable location before they even know whether they will need it, so they don't need to spend time after any "disaster" finding office space. If this is not possible, they should at least set out their requirements for alternative accommodation and find out who could arrange it for them, at very short notice, should the need arise.

But it is no use transferring to a new, safe location unless staff are told about it! It may not be practical for one person to phone every member of staff, so managers may need to arrange a "cascade list" setting out who should phone whom.

Computer-based information should be kept in the form of back-up copies of all important information (both computer and paper-based). This should be stored at a secure, off-site location as a matter of course.

Keeping up-to-date lists of suppliers and technicians will make it easier to replace computer hardware and software if this is destroyed.

Managers should also make an assessment of the furniture and other equipment (photocopiers, fax machines, telephones, dictating machines, paper etc) they would need in both the short- and long-term.

It's important to remember that a "disaster" isn't just one that destroys your premises.

One of the most worrying trends in recent years is the growth in computer crime that has hit the commercial sector very badly.

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