Being prepared is one of the best things you can do for your business. Statistics show that one in four businesses forced to close because of a disaster never reopen, but there are ways to prevent that. In developing a plan for how to stay open during a disaster, you insure a better rebuilding and recovery process. Outlined below are steps to developing a business continuity plan:
1) Know Your Risks
Knowing your risks will help you evaluate the extent of your business’s vulnerability:
- Identify your threats (natural hazards, damage to infrastructure, etc.).
- Rank the probability of threats – how likely is it to happen?
- Rank the severity of threats – what would be the potential impact?
- Look at the ranking – the highest are those you should plan for as soon as possible.
2) Know Your Operations and Employees:
Your ability to respond quickly to any type of business disruption could make the difference between continuity and closure. Think about the following:
- What activities do you and your employees perform on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis? What functions and processes are required to do them?
- What is your main product / service and how do you produce it?
- What are the things that could most likely impact your ability to do business?
- What other functions and processes do you perform to run your business?
- What are the consequence if the function cannot be performed? Can your business survive without one? More than one?
- Do you have your employees contact information outside your location? Is that information current?
3) Know Your Key Customers, Contacts, Suppliers and Vendors:
Your key customers need to know that you can provide “business as usual” even if others around you are experiencing difficulties. Maintaining up-to-date contact information for your key customers, contacts, suppliers and vendors is critical.
- Know the geographic location of your suppliers and vendors. If they are all in the same place as you, have alternates and back-ups (consider having these anyway).
- Establish a notification list and procedures.
- Identify how to communicate with customers after a disaster, such as calls, e-mails, social media, newspapers, etc.
4) Know Your Information Technology:
With information and information technology being vital for most businesses, they are just as vital in your plan.
- Backup computer files, and when possible, keep hard copies of critical files offsite.
- Maintain an up-to-date copy of computer and Internet login codes and passwords.
- Request written estimates for rental or purchase of equipment with IT vendors.
- If flooding is possible, elevate computer equipment stored on the floor.
5) Know Your Finances:
Preparing your business financially now is just as critical as knowing what to do when disaster strikes.
- Have an emergency cash reserve fund.
- Have credit available.
- Identify financial obligations that must be paid.
- Consider creating a policy regarding payroll during and after a disaster.
6) Know When to Update and Test Your Plan:
For your plan to be successful, it needs to be continually maintained, updated and tested.
- Repeat the following process with regards to updating every six months:
- Have employees review the plan.
- Is anything out of date?
- Is contact information current and verified?
- Have your procedures or responsibilities changed?
- Test your plan and conduct exercises with employees. Identify gaps in your plan and adjust as needed.
For more insight on disaster relief and how to prepare, contact the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help. And to download the interactive toolkit from IBHS, click the source link below.