How would you ensure the continuity of your business in the event of a catastrophe?
Imagine for a moment that a violent windstorm blows the roof off your building, or a fire knocks out the electricity for several weeks. Or an employee fails to lock up important equipment that is then stolen. How would your business recover? Does your company have a plan?
Businesses that have a plan in place are more likely to recover from a catastrophe compared to those who don’t. They are aware of what actions need to be taken the moment a disaster strikes, and they have taken the proper steps ahead of time to find the right type of insurance to make sure they are properly insured.
While this article won’t outline a perfect plan, it will give you a place to start.
There is no substitute for training. Making clear and concise responsibilities will ensure that everyone knows their role in a disaster. Additionally, reviewing the training together allows vital questions to be asked ahead of time, ensuring everyone is on the same page and understands their role. Prepare for disaster by developing a business continuity and a disaster recovery plan. Keep duplicate records and have easy access to these documents. If your accounts receivable or other business records are damaged, revenue will be lost and recovery will be slower.
Back up your data. Reconstruction of data is difficult, sometimes impossible, but if your data is backed up, the down time can be minimized. Having multiple backups is helpful; this way the data files are stored securely off premises. Since the majority of businesses require the use of computers to operate, establish a relationship with the vendor now so that you have an idea of their timelines. Hardware vendors will often allow you to simulate a disaster to verify that all of the data has been backed up. Simulations are an excellent opportunity to ensure that nothing is being missed.
Compile lists of equipment you own or lease, including model and serial numbers. Identify critical business infrastructure and the resources needed to support them. Many businesses can’t afford to close while the premises are being repaired because the people who once depended on their services or products will quickly find a replacement. Decide what you must do to retain market share. If you need to continue operations, determine what you require to run the business at an alternate location. Do your employees have the ability to work remotely? Consider having a policy for speaking to the media. In the event of a disaster, the local media might want to interview employees. To avoid any negative publicity, consider having a spokesman who is well informed and authorized to speak on behalf of the company to the media.
Put together a list of companies that could supply you with equipment in the short term, whether that is in the form of rent or a short-term lease. Establish a relationship with a contractor today. In the event of a disaster, contractors will be in short supply.
Ensure that your employees know and understand your processes and procedures. Communication is vital in a disaster, not only to employees but clients as well. You do not want to waste time and energy having multiple employees work on the same task. Establish a communication chain of command so that vital information can find its way to the decision makers. Keep essential items on hand, such as a first aid kit, flashlight, and additional batteries. Businesses located in a hurricane zone should work with their bank to ensure that they have sufficient cash on hand as a storm could potentially shut down automatic teller machines.
Review your insurance coverage with your agent. Bring up the costs that could extend beyond physical damage on the property or to equipment. In order to ensure that you are fully covered, ask your insurance agent questions about what the policy covers. Make sure that not only the property but its content is covered in your plan. If your property is located in a flood zone, check with your agent as, in some cases, you may have to have a separate policy for floods. Also, the federal government requires buildings in flood zones that do not conform to the flood plain building codes to be torn down if the damage exceeds 50 percent of their market value. Consider purchasing a policy, ordinance, or law coverage to help pay for any additional costs of tearing down a structure and rebuilding it. Another policy to consider is Business Interruption Insurance. This compensates for income lost due to mandatory evacuations due to a disaster. Your disaster strategy should include a detailed review of your insurance coverage along with phone numbers and should be reviewed at a minimum once per year.