Improve your disaster recovery plans

Posted by: INSZoom | Date: February 25, 2015

The chance of a natural disaster isn't a topic you want to dwell on every day. But, it's something you need to sit down and think about before it's too late.

"Failing to establish a response plan actively puts your entire business at risk."

As an immigration professional, your office houses thousands of important documents for you and your clients. As dramatic as it may seem, it only takes one catastrophe to destroy these documents. Failing to establish a response plan actively puts this information – and your entire business – at risk for failure.

Take these steps to build a disaster plan:

Analyze what you back up
So much of what immigration professionals do these days relies on digital forms and documents. However, many attorneys and human resources departments still use paper files as well. Both of these file types need to be backed up on a regular basis to ensure information is redundant and never lost.

You might be wondering how you back up paper. All significant documents should be scanned and saved to your cloud-based case management software. There should not be a single important document in your office that is the only copy.

Your information stored in the cloud should also be redundant. You should talk with your cloud provider to ensure your data is backed up to a different data center. Data stored in only one place is as susceptible to disaster as paper files in your office.

You should backup your data on a daily basisYou should back up your data on a daily basis

Determine how often you back up
Once you've figured out what is and is not backed up, you should determine the frequency with which you perform the procedure. Your system should be backed up daily. Incoming paper should be scanned the day it's received and any internal servers and hard drives should be scheduled to back up at the end of each work day.

Reduce paper use
After you analyze your current backup processes, you may realize you rely too heavily on paper, which must be scanned into your system to be protected. To make your life easier going forward, you should work to reduce the use of paper in your office and rely more on digital documents. Data stored in the cloud can easily be backed up on a daily basis, ensuring your backup is always up to date.

By using an immigration-specific CMS, you can dramatically decrease paper correspondence. For instance, client onboarding documentation can be digital and transmitted through email. Invoicing and payments can also be done online: Clients receive a bill through email and can go online to pay their bill with a credit or debit card.

Prepare for the worst
Once you've updated your office backup policies to ensure all of your important information is digitally saved to the cloud, you need to plan for how you'll work if a disaster actually occurs. If a fire or natural disaster destroys your office, you'll need a place to work and equipment including laptops, Internet and eventually desks, chairs and office supplies.

Create a formal plan for if your office becomes unusable so that your staff knows where and how it should continue to work. This plan may include a set phone or email chain to pass information, instructions on which clients to contact first and a list of duties for individual staff members to get the office up and running as quickly as possible.

While there will be many issues to worry about, having the client and office information you need won't be one of them. Because your information is backed up with your cloud-based case management system, you and your colleagues can access client data with a mobile device and Internet connection.