On Disaster Recovery

On July 21, 2018 we had an office fire. We also had a disaster plan and put it into motion immediately. Maintaining operations throughout the recovery period is one of our proudest moments so it is very sobering to think about how we would have responded if we had not planned for such an event in advance. Here are several things that need to be considered when creating a disaster plan.

  1. Make sure you are aware of plan items that go out of date quickly, and make plans to update those elements on a regular basis. Contact information is an especially critical area that requires frequent updating. Our refresh interval is twice per year but if information churn is more active, a more frequent refresh is in order. (Also don’t forget to send refreshed plan versions to others who hold a copy of your plan – attorney, accountant, insurance agent, volunteer leaders and note the revision date somewhere on the plan).
  2. Operationally you will need to stay open to new approaches and changes driven by both necessity and innovation. In particular, the culture of the organization will become very fluid during the period of recovery. If you are agile and aware enough, you can take advantage of this window by implementing important and effective cultural changes that can improve value to members: improving communication, easing administrative burdens, jump ahead to fulfill strategic objectives during restructuring, etc.
  3. Mark and celebrate progress as you go. Everyone on the team needs to understand how far you’ve come, where you’re going, and what the next step will be to get us there. Keep score and let everyone know how close you are to the finish line. Don’t forget to celebrate when recovery is complete. We were displaced a total of 5 months and even though the journey was difficult, we grew to become a much stronger team as a result of the experience. Plan now so that you can rely on your plan when you really need it!