Iron Mountain partners with organizations that are committed to planning ahead and maintaining the best practices for business continuity.

The ten critical steps you can take to prepare your business continuity:

1. Ensure that you can communicate with employees in the event of business disruption. Even if phones are down, the server gets knocked out, or your computers are sitting in six inches of water, you need to communicate in order to continue. Have an initial plan, then a backup plan. And, a backup for your backup.

2. Maintain current contact information for employees and customers. A disaster scenario is never the best time to find out if your information is out-of-date.

3. Make sure your people are safe. Having your business survive a hurricane, flood, or storm is only half the battle. Being able to maintain contact with your employees, whether they’re at work, or not, is important to ensure their safety, and communicate the plan for getting up and running again.

4. Prepare for a remote facility. In the event of any business disturbance, you may not be able to go to work in order to get to work. Have an alternate location in mind where you can access crucial business information. This location should be far enough away that it wouldn’t suffer the same disruptive events.

5. Prioritize what you protect. In a time of crisis, communication is key. Make sure that email is always available, and make sure you set up a communication plan to stay in contact. Of all business applications, email is the one application that you should plan to rely on.

6. When it comes to compliance, it always has to be business as usual. Having an archival system in place ensures that all transactions are recoverable. And it’s crucial to have backup systems for your email because if employees have to use personal email accounts, all transactions will be out of compliance.

7. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Conduct an audit of your suppliers and vendors, and find out what their recovery plan is. Consider hosting some of your services out of the area so when you’re hit with a disruption, your systems stay safe and steady.

8. This is not a drill. The only way to know your recovery system works is to see your recovery system work. Complete off-hours drills, and test every aspect or your plan.

9. Have a great plan, then toss it out. A preparedness plan is only useful if you can implement it. Anticipate what could disrupt it, and create alternate plans, and built-in redundancies. Always make sure that you’ve got a back up.

10. Prioritize. Determine a priority for key business systems. What must be working to maintain continuity? Protect those systems first. Be prepared to go lean, and focus first on the most business-critical systems.