The mild winter enjoyed in Maryland in December has turned into something that can be called anything but mild. Was, and is, your office prepared?

Keep an Off-Site List of Contacts

You probably have thousands of customers and vendors. Keeping an off-site contact list will allow you to stay in touch with them and keep your business running during downtime. This list should contain vendors that you need to contact every week, as well as any customers with current, unresolved issues. A printed paper version can be important; and don’t forget to keep a list of employee phone numbers ,too.

Back Up Critical Data Off-Site or in the Cloud

You only have a day or two to make preparations after forecasters tell you that a storm has a high chance of hitting your area. Power failures, melting floods and even looting are all risks to your infrastructure and data that come with a severe storm.

A thorough disaster recovery plan will already accommodate the off-site storage of critical data. If you don’t have such a plan, you’ll want to start backing up critical data to an off-site location as soon as possible. This will give the data time to fully transfer before the storm hits.

One of the best options is to store your backups in the cloud. Data saved in the cloud is also readily available and redundantly stored. Implementing cloud backups can take some time to plan, store and test.

Have a Communication Plan

Work with your employees to create primary and secondary ways of to communicate during the storm. You might want to forward your phones or extensions to cell phones; many newer VoIP phones systems provide a number of options, including just carrying your office phone home and plugging it into your home Internet connect. E-mail, and even texting, should be part of the triage plan. You want to have plans that not only include employees, but also provide a message to your customers. Some companies have used social media, like Facebook and LinkedIn, as ways to stay in touch, as well.

Practice Your Recovery Plan

Test restoring your data to your servers. Ensure that your local and remote backups can be used to restore operations in the event that you suffer extended downtime. Stepping through your recovery plan makes everyone familiar with what needs to be done to get your company back up and running.

Dave Kile is senior vice president with Ease Technologies, of Columbia. He can be contacted at 301-854-0010 and dkile@easetech.com.