Natural and man-made disasters around the world have thrown businesses for a loop in the past few years. Many of these disasters have served as painful lessons regarding the importance of continuity or disruption planning ahead of time. After all, some disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy (2012) provided a little warning. Not all of them, as we painfully learned on September 11, 2001 provide forewarning. Businesses need to be prepared with disruption plans that can be put into place with no notice at all and they need to have members of staff that are trained to cover multiple roles in the event of a disaster if necessary.
What Lessons Have been Learned in the Past Regarding Continuity?
The one, most important lesson all businesses need to learn when it comes to disasters is that no matter how bad it seems, proper planning and a good business insurance policy, can be the salvation of your business—even when the worst does happen. With more and more events becoming increasingly widespread, it’s more essential than ever before that businesses have plans in place for the time preceding disasters (assuming there is warning), during disasters, and in the aftermath of disasters. A solid insurance policy won’t prevent disaster from occurring, but is instrumental for helping your business recover once the disaster is over with.
These plans need to be written down and distributed physically and electronically to each and every employee so that when disasters occur they are likely to have some sort of access to the information. You also need to conduct drills and training periodically so that you can be sure everything works as it should when a disaster does happen.
Important Considerations to Include in Disruption Planning
The Public Safety Canada Website has made some important points about the lessons of the past and pointed out a few things businesses need to keep in mind while creating their business disruption and/or continuity plans. Whether you are in business here in the U.S. or in the country of our neighbors to the north, here are a few of the highlights you should consider when creating your own plan.
- Alternate IT servers should be located a fair distance from the primary site
- Communication is essential in the moments, days, and weeks following a disaster
- Frequent updates and testing of continuity plans are necessary
- Have plans for a wide range of possibilities – even those that seem far-fetched (the September 11, 2001 attacks were considered unlikely—until they happened)
- Make sure all employees understand their roles and responsibilities
These things may seem simple enough. However, they can have a significant impact on how quickly your business will be able to get up and running once the “all clear” is received after the disaster has ended.
There is nothing like having a good plan in place to help your business and your employees get through the chaos of a disaster, whether man-made or natural. Employees are much better prepared to cope with their emotional reaction to the disaster as well and to carry out the roles they need to carry out for the sake of the business when they have a clearly defined role and a well-conceived plan of action to follow—and it will have your business moving quickly towards the road to recovery as well.