By Leona Harrison, Specialty Fuel Services:
Most disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods usually occur when you least expect them. But whichever way, it’s a real issue when disaster brings your business to a complete stop. Malicious acts, forces of nature or even minor mistakes can have a lasting effect on your business and completely interfere with your revenue.
From having a backup strategy to a plan for businesses dealing with products, a recovery program usually varies from one business to another. A recovery program will basically ensure that the business gets back to its normal operation as quickly as possible and even ensure that it’s secure and ready to handle another emergency. Here is how to ensure that there is business continuity when disaster strikes.
- Establish responsibilities and planning roles: Understanding and identifying who is responsible for specific tasks during an emergency is very important to effectively respond and recover from the event. Apart from this, you also need to carry out a risk assessment and understand how the risks are likely to affect the business. By understanding and prioritizing all the risks you will greatly protect your business in case such a thing happens.
- Consider the business impact: This is perhaps one of the most important things. You need to consider the likelihood of the occurrence and calculate the overall impact that it’s likely to have. Some of the scenarios that might occur include physical damage, power outage, loss of files in computers, employee departure, and termination. If you consider your business response to some of these scenarios you can begin to arrange some of the elements of your recovery plan including asset inventory, backup checks, and team responsibilities.
- Develop a continuity strategy: Having a procedure, plans, and agreements such as memorandums of understandings in place to detect, prevent, respond, and recover from events is very important when it comes to sustaining your business operations. This will help you to continue your business regardless of what has taken place.
- Plan for communication and employee safety: If your business were to experience a disaster, would you know how to protect your employees? Well, when such a thing happens it’s very important to think about how you will secure employee records and how you will communicate with them. If the crisis is as a result of natural disaster then your first step should be an explanation of what you are doing to sustain your operations and also to keep both your employees and customers safe. However, if the event has been caused by a human error then the response required may be much more delicate.
- Put in place testing, training, and exercises: There is an old adage that says you must test to ensure that it’s working. Once you have developed a business continuity plan, you should take some time to train your staff so that they are aware of their responsibilities and consider exercises to put them into practice so that when such thing occurs the business will be very prepared.
- Create business operations to reduce downtime: If your business is like most businesses then you depend heavily on technology, computers and other shared networks to provide the services. How would your normal operations be impacted if you face serious downtime? Do you have a plan to access your most important files? According to a recent survey, a small business that experiences 1 hour of downtime will lose up to $20,000 due to disruption. But if this extends to 3 hours then the business might lose even up to $75,000. It’s therefore very important to eliminate this.
- Provide your clients with reassurance: Do you store sensitive information about the customers? Would you be able to pass the information in such a way that you reassures the customers? Well if such a thing occurs then you need to pass the information in such a way that you’re able to build confidence among your clients. Otherwise, you may end up receiving public backlash that may eventually affect your business revenues.
While severe weather such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and other disasters can greatly affect the normal business operations smart businesses are taking their time to plan so as to ensure that there is a business continuity. Having business continuity plan in place and regularly reviewing, practicing, and updating it will help you weather the storm and resume your normal operations. By having disaster recovery plan in place any event will have a very little impact.
About the Author: Leona Harrison is part of the content and community team at Specialty Fuel Services, providers of emergency fuel continuation services, in locations affected by catastrophic events.