Public health crises, forces of nature, man-made catastrophes: Disasters can cause major setbacks for businesses and organizations.
If a business does not have a preparedness plan in place to protect employees and secure assets, resuming operations can take longer than expected. Having a continuity plan is equally important and can help ensure that your business keeps running in the aftermath of a disaster.
Preparing Your Business for a Disaster
It’s important to consider how your business may be impacted by a variety of disasters and to be adequately prepared for those situations. Putting together a Disaster Recovery Plan can help protect critical business assets and minimize operational risk.
Here are a few steps to consider when developing one:
- Establish crisis management procedures
- Identify communication protocols
- Review business interruption coverage
- Maintain documentation
- Plan for continuity
By addressing and planning for different scenarios, you can determine the best approach for disaster preparedness and recovery.
Elements of an Effective Business Continuity Plan
Business continuity planning begins with assessing how potential risks to your business will impact the ability of your business to continue to deliver products and/or services in the event of an interruption. By assessing and understanding the potential impact of possible risks by performing a review and financial analysis, you will be able to identify and prioritize the steps you may need to take to repair your business after an unexpected disruption. Identifying and defining potential risks enables you to develop strategies to mitigate the impact of a disruption.
A typical business continuity plan involves the following:
- Analysis of organizational threats
- A list of the primary tasks required to keep the organization operations flowing
- Easily located management contact information
- Explanation and communication of where personnel should go if there is a disastrous event
- Plan for data backups and organization site backup
- Collaboration and input among all facets of the organization
- Buy-in from everyone in the organization
Depending on the circumstances, it may take weeks or months for businesses to be up and running again after a disaster. Businesses, large and small, cannot afford a prolonged shutdown of operations and need to be proactive in disaster recovery planning. From identifying potential risks and performing a business impact analysis to developing strategies and testing plans, all steps are crucial components of a resiliency plan.
In determining a recovery strategy, organizations should consider such issues as:
- Operating budget and cash-flow needs
- Resources such as people and physical facilities – Where and when will you resume operations
- Management team coordination – Duties and Responsibilities pre- and post-storm
- Technology needs – Data back-up and hardware, including ability to access on-site and remotely post-storm
- Suppliers – Contingency plans in case your suppliers are also impacted by storm
While disasters and tragedies bring out the best in people, they can also bring out the worst. At every stage of recovery, you should be aware of potential fraud and schemes.
- Fraudulent Charities
- Fraudulent Contractors
- Flooded Car Sales
- Insurance Scams
- Identity Theft
If you suspect fraud connected to a natural disaster, you can contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud or visit FEMA's Hurricane Harvey resource page.
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