Is your accounting business disaster-ready? Don't fall into the trap of thinking that emergencies only happen to other people. With a strong disaster recovery plan, your firm is ready to handle everything from an office fire to a category-five hurricane. Follow these steps to set a plan in place to get back on your feet quickly after a disaster.
1. Keep Data Safe
Data is the backbone of your accounting business. Keep it safe by backing everything up off-site. The best backup is frequent and automatic. Consider investing in a data backup appliance and working out a deal with another company where you each store your backup at the other's place of business. Look for a business some distance from your own to minimize the risk of both businesses being affected by the same disaster.
Another option is to store your backup in the cloud. Cloud computing keeps your data safe, either through cloud-based software applications or a dedicated backup server. Whatever your choice, make sure everything gets backed up, from mobile devices to large interoffice networks.
2. Develop a Plan
After ensuring the safety of your data, take the time to develop a written disaster recovery plan. Start by listing your critical business components, and then create a visual showing how these elements work together in your accounting business. In your recovery plan, list your business components in order of importance. This makes it easy to know where to focus your resources when an emergency occurs.
Other things to include in the plan are information about your data backup and restore processes and the locations of important documents, such as licenses and product keys. Add an inventory of your workstations, systems and other technology for both your own use and any necessary insurance claims.
3. Put Someone in Charge
Select someone to be your organization's risk management officer. This person is in charge of maintaining and implementing your emergency preparedness program. Ideally, the person should not be a partner or your lead IT professional. The amount of responsibility associated with the position varies depending on the size of your accounting business and the scope of your operations.
4. Train a Team
Select a group of your most responsible employees to serve on your disaster response team. Train them in data recovery, and make sure they are all familiar with your emergency response plan. If you have more than one location, include someone from each work site on the team.
5. Have Emergency Drills
Test your emergency response plan regularly. Make sure your data is backing up properly. Try out your system restore. Backed up data is not helpful if you can't use it. Carry out a physical emergency drill at your accounting business once a year, and debrief afterwards to revise your plan as necessary. Regular practice helps things to go more smoothly in the event of an actual emergency.
Don't let your intention to develop a disaster plan slip through the cracks. Prioritize its development, and work diligently to keep it up-to-date. A quality plan gives you peace of mind that your accounting business can weather anything that comes its way.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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