Continuity management has long been tied to disaster planning and crisis response as fundamental to emergency planning but the reality is: If you’re just practicing business continuity to survive you’re never going to get much out of it.
The key to effective value creation from continuity management is a strategy that builds on how the day-to-day business is designed to create value. Today’s global market puts us all in crisis. Corporate directors are in jail. Cyber terrorists can easily hide across borders around world yet still access information kept locked away. States and countries declare bankruptcy. Instability is everywhere.
Businesses are so interdependent on one another that supply chain and technology are complex grey zones of value and accountability. The bottom line is the business needs to create value to survive. Maybe value means money, maybe it’s customer satisfaction or maybe it’s serving its nonprofit goal. Regardless, the creation of that value must be the crux of your resilience plans.
One of the most common misconceptions of business continuity planning is that it starts with a disaster and in a lucky world no one would need a plan. Luck favors the prepared. A business with a healthy continuity management program doesn’t just survive crisis; it thrives daily. The reality of the business world is that every day is more complex and risk loaded. In order to work toward corporate maturity and institutionalization of the systems that create value you have to structure and live your plan.
Think again! So many companies these days think it’s a good idea to let technology get behind the wheel of business or business recovery. This is not going to move you forward. Business is about people and systems. If you happen to have a computer to help with one of those systems, fine, but don’t let that computer boss you around and don’t EVER start thinking that computer cares about you or your company. It doesn’t and it never will.
Likewise, there’s a strong trend to push business decisions on to the people who care for the computer. They are fantastic people and they help you get what you need. You may even get to feeling like they are indispensable because they are always saying things like, “We are working on that now”. Or they make your iPad work after you screamed at it and threatened to throw it out the window. Your tech team may be working miracles but they still can not run your business. Put them back in their car seat and get back to driving!
Many executives ask themselves: “I know the basics about critical processes and mission-critical systems but what can I do to really make a difference in our ability to consistently exceed our customer’s expectations?”
One way is to focus on increasing your business value and to sustain that value regardless of expected or unexpected circumstances. Below are 10 planning actions that you can take to support your mission critical value proposition.
10. Don’t be satisfied with a computer backup plan. When your clients ask what’s the #1 reason they should use your company, do you say it’s your technology? Probably not. Why are you relying on technology to save you in a disaster?
9. Ask questions. What are your employees doing in their personal lives for emergency readiness? What are their concerns? How can you help them?
8. Talk about operational risk and continuity management in business strategy meetings. Talking is the first step to integrating it into the corporate culture.
7. Don’t count on vendors to pick up your slack in an emergency. If it’s not written into your contract don’t put it in your plan. Even then, always have a backup plan.
6. Know when to say there’s a problem. Chances are you’re not going to be the one to first notice something is wrong. If you are ignoring business deficiencies, others are too.
5. Know your emergency response plan. Every natural hazard has a professional group that monitors it and knows how to respond. The response plans are usually free online. Get a good plan for the basic natural disasters in your area. Keep it simple and your bases covered.
4. Don’t focus on the fear. It’s easy to look at the unlimited disaster scenarios and get overwhelmed. Instead look at what’s really important – a strong business plan.
3. Make a list of what is really important to your business. Keep it short – not more than ten points (tops!). Share it with everyone – your boss, your employees, your clients, your partners.
2. Build relationships with three key responders. This could be your local police department or a critical vendor. The point is being on a first name basis with the person who has the answers you’re going to need during your emergency.
1. Create a solid employee communications plan and test it quarterly or more often. People are your greatest asset; know how to connect with them. Set standards and make them clear.
Still unsure or need help developing a road map to make your path simple? We’re here for you. Call now for a free consultation. 888-297-PLAN
Just like a simple checklist for car or home maintenance, your business needs emergency management maintenance as well. For your convenience here’s a Business Service Checklist that I developed for my use. It fits on a single page all the business maintenance tasks that need regular attention, but which are forgotten easily. I hope you find it useful! Please add your own recommendations in the comments section.
Every 3 months:
- Check first aid kit, replenish supplies as necessary.
- Check employee roster to make sure numbers are correct.
- Drill generator or back up power capabilities.
- Test your crisis communication plan.
- Exercise your plans.
- Hold mock evacuation of your facility. Invite local fire department to take part and give recommendations.
- Have fire extinguishers inspected by licensed professional.
- Have AED (automated external defibrillator) inspected and, if necessary, recharged.
- Replace batteries in supply kits, emergency exit lighting, etc.
- Review your risks. What’s changed?
- Update your response, recovery and resumption plans.
- Review insurance coverage.
- Have local fire & police departments do a walk through of your facility. Each brings a unique and new perspective to safety, vulnerabilities and security improvements. This also keeps you in touch with the people who would be responding to emergencies at your facilities. During an emergency is NOT the best time to get introduced!
- Employee safety training & awareness – choose a specific day every year to employee safety and awareness. September is National Preparedness Month and is ideal. There are various activities to take part in across the nation. Many service providers host free seminars and offer preparedness kits. Hold your own personal and professional prep seminars. Make it fun! Hold safety competitions, get employees involved. Recognize employees or departments with high safety track records. Distribute resources like home safety kit fact sheets. Highlight office safety initiatives like reporting spills, extinguisher training or expert audits.