Key Tips to Increase Your Company’s Resilience
Research indicates that 43% of small-to-medium businesses fail after a disaster, and another 25% of business that do re-open, will fail within two years because they did not have a disaster plan. Having a disaster plan can mean the difference between your business recovering after a disaster or closing forever.
Created as part of in partnership with the UPS Foundation, below is a sneak peek of a few key tips to advance your company’s readiness for any disaster, whether natural or manmade. . Each of these elements will become part of your disaster plan, the core of any continuity program. The goal is to increase your business’ resilience through measures that are not extra tasks on your “to do list”, but instead are incorporated into your everyday operations as part of your best practices – since disasters can strike without warning.
1. Build a team to create your plan
No one person knows everything about your business, so it is crucial to create a team of key people who will make sure you are addressing all of your critical elements. Your planning team will ensure that every facet of your business process is represented. The team can help the planning by providing both the “big picture” of your operations as well as the critical details of your business that must be considered. Remember, every minute that your doors are closed creates more and more opportunities for your competitors to step in and take a bite out of your market share. Waiting until after experiencing a disaster will be catastrophically too late to identify your decision gaps.
2. Get top level buy-in
Executive support of the planning team must be communicated to the entire organization, ensuring that everyone knows this is a priority and that the team’s subject matter experts are allowed some time away from their everyday tasks to work on the planning. Team members need not be away from their normal responsibilities full-time, but it’s important that they spend time working together to accomplish their goals. Executives will also need to develop a realistically expected timeline for plan completion. This will help keep the planning process on track, facilitate the achievement of desired results (a final disaster plan), and promote forward momentum in shoring up the business where it is vulnerable.
3. Keep your disaster plan simple
It should be easy for employees to follow and not too costly to maintain or update. Larger or more complex companies may have more complex plans, but much of the information in the plan can be reduced to checklists for tracking what has been done and next steps that need to be taken. Checklists help employees respond better in a disaster because they help reduce employee stress, which can affect their ability to think and respond appropriately. Your plan will outline how your company is going to protect your operations, your people, your equipment and data, and your brand, ensuring that your company is as prepared as possible for the hazards it is most likely to face
4. Gather critical documents & information needed for decision-making
These are the key documents that help you make decisions, such as legal documents, insurance policies, and lease agreements. How you gather these documents will differ depending on how you back up and store your information, but it is best to store this critical info in more than one format (e.g., electronically on a laptop or thumb drive, in hard copy, or digitally in a cloud environment that can be accessed via computer or smart phone). Consider these documents as reference materials to be included in your plan’s appendix. Many will help you with your current planning process, and others will be needed to assist you during the recovery process.
5. Identify and then prioritize your critical operations and processes
This will help you prioritize which pieces of your business must be brought back most urgently after a disruption in order to open your doors and minimize losses. For now, think only about how things work under normal, everyday conditions. Consider those critical tasks that must be accomplished first, second, third, etc. Keep drilling down to get an overall picture of what you do, how some of what you do is reliant on the completion of other tasks being accomplished first, resulting in priority order of your operations and processes that must occur each day.
6. Identify your hazards – the potential disruptions to your operations
Every business is vulnerable to something. This process helps you to determine which hazards can affect your most critical business operations so you know which ones you will need to protect in order to stay open. Now that you have prioritized your business operations when the lights are on and computers are working, it’s time to consider those hazards that may delay or disrupt your operations. The most likely disasters to hit a business are a power outage and a fire. A fire may not only disrupt your processes, but may also force you to relocate entirely, either temporarily or permanently. Take your list of hazards and determine which may have the most significant impact on parts or all your business. Look beyond your four walls and consider the full scope of your business.
7. Build your plan and create a “grab-n-go” case
Now that you’ve gathered critical documents, prioritized your critical operations, and identified your hazards, you need to formulate your disaster plan for what to do when a disruption occurs that affects your critical operations. You can create your own plan or can use resources like the DRB Toolkit® to simply walk you through the step-by-step process. Next, create a “Grab-n-Go” case that will contain a hard copy of your disaster plan and any relevant documents, which you may need during and after a disaster such as floor plans, lease agreements, and insurance policies. It is your last resort copy when all else fails. Also, be careful when storing sensitive information like phone numbers - security is also important.
Now that you know how to get started and protect your operations, to learn how to protect your people, equipment and data, your brand, and how to put the plan into action. Follow these steps to ensure that your organization is as prepared as possible for the hazards it is most likely to face.