With the hurricane season in full swing, you may soon be preoccupied with 24-hour live weather forecasts and dramatic video of the news guy reporting from an overtopped sea wall. Yes, the one that stayed behind during a mandatory full evacuation, risking life and limb so you can see the water splashing about. Don’t we just love him?

The problem is, all this weather drama comes with a cost. Power loss, property damage and flooding all take their toll. And it’s not just Hurricane Powder Puff you need to worry about –your facilities may be just as susceptible to lightning, tornado, fire, vandalism, employee sabotage – even a diminutive rodent gnawing through your fiber optic cable. Unfortunately your business can ill afford downtime, much less days or weeks it might take to rebuild. If you care at all about your business and livelihood, you better have a business continuity plan.

Be Ready, or Be Dead

In short, a business continuity plan is your set of guidelines to minimize disruption and keep your business running. How long can you run without outside power? What if your facilities are flooded or damaged by fire? Or the roof collapses due to heavy snow? Who do you call and how will you respond? These are very real possibilities that happen all the time. How you prepare for them is up to you.

Worst Case Scenario

Think about your specific processes and needs. Can you quickly set up shop and move your employees to a new location? Can the sales team access data remotely and continue working from home or another office? In this worst case scenario, once you have secured new facilities it should take about a week to set up utilities, reroute telephony/data services and coordinate your team. Planning for such contingencies can make the transition a lot smoother.

SysAdmin Prepare Thyself

If you’re in charge of the I.T. systems, think about your disaster recovery plan. A disaster recovery plan works as part of the business continuity plan, detailing how to get back online when things go down. This may encompass all things related to maintaining or restoring telephony and data. And it needs to go beyond installing a battery backup on the server – you need to think about long-term survival and possible facility relocation.

For example, you may likely be responsible for restoring voice communications and data for your organization. Who do you call when the T1 or fiber lines go down? You should have a list of emergency contact names and numbers hard-copied and at your fingertips at a moment’s notice, and the other members of your team and management should have a copy too.

Plan and Discuss

While your business needs are terribly complex, your basic survival plan needs to be simple and effective. There will be time to deal with the details later, get your business up and running now. And don’t just draw up a quick plan and stash it away in a drawer – share and discuss with your team. The better prepared you are now, the better you can respond later when things go wrong.