Organizations that plan for a disaster always have a better chance of surviving than ones that try to cobble something together in haste. A robust disaster recovery plan encompasses everything from calling your employees to let them know about office closures to being able to access business-critical information like contracts after the event. The alternative is a heightened risk of business failure within two years, as studies have shown.
An effective disaster recovery plan accounts not only for how to access information, but also how to make decisions and operate efficiently after the event occurs—this is what we call “business continuity.” Document management technologies, particularly cloud-based systems, help ensure business continuity.
Instant Document Access
Converting paper documents stored in filing cabinets to electronic records gives you unparalleled benefits from a business continuity perspective. A good start can be made by digitizing your documents yourself, or better yet sending them to a document scanning provider so that you can focus on your business and the rest of your disaster recovery plan.
Access to electronic documents in software residing on workstations is a good start but, because of issues with VPN (virtual private networks), routine software updates that need to be managed by your IT staff and because these workstations can also be lost during a disaster, cloud-based document management offers a better business continuity solution. Document management in the cloud provides secure, 24/7 access to critical business documents from anywhere you have a computer or mobile device, browser and internet connection. This will help make contracts, employee files, invoices, correspondence, and (of course) insurance policies instantly available to avoid having the crisis get worse. Cloud document management is also very cost effective with low, predictable monthly expenses instead of a significant up-front capital expense (opex vs. capex), and you can have unlimited users and projects without licensing fees.
Cloud Asset Management
We also recommend storing records pertaining to physical asset management within your cloud-based document management system. Storing electronic photos, purchase orders, receipts, and insurance policy documents relating to these assets will allow you to efficiently provide proof of insurance and asset value so that you can quickly have them replaced or be reimbursed faster for repairs.
From invoice processing to managing employees, cloud document management workflow modules allow you to pick up right where you left off. This technology allows employees to work remotely, management can track progress and automatic alerts may be more reliable than cellular communication when signals aren’t available or batteries are dead.
Document Your Process
In addition to electronic management of the documents that drive your processes, you can shorten downtime by storing disaster recovery processes and procedures within the document management system. This will serve as a useful reminder for experienced employees and is especially critical for new hires. We also recommend storing processes and procedures for every department for both business continuity and new employee on-boarding.
Practice, Practice, Practice
If your managers and staff are not familiar with disaster recovery procedures, make sure to train them so they know what to do when disaster strikes. Then test your plan regularly to identify process and information gaps. We recommend that you actually approve some invoices, write some checks, process payroll—all from outside of your corporate facilities. You will be glad you did this when the next storm, fire, flood, or other disaster strikes.