Whether it is a natural disaster, manmade disaster, terrorist attack or Murphy’s law wreaking havoc on your business, having an emergency plan of action is an absolute necessity to ensure business continuity and keep the organization running.
The Better Business Bureau has compiled basic tips to ensuring business continuity.
Don’t be caught off guard. Consider the different types of disasters—fire, flood, tornado, etc.—that can occur and how your business would respond differently to being displaced for a week, a month, or longer.
Know your surroundings. Determine alternate locations for your business to operate if you are displaced from your current building. This could mean enabling employees to work from home or finding an alternate location for your office or store.
Prepare your staff. Identify essential staff who are core to the operations of the business and keep a list of their phone numbers (home, work, pager, cell) and e-mail addresses that can be accessed by employees from several locations (home, Internet, etc.).
Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Devise an emergency communications plan that outlines how your business will communicate with employees, customers, vendors and other key external contacts in the days following a disaster. Contact vendors and suppliers to confirm their emergency response plan procedures. Be prepared to use alternate vendors for essential supplies and equipment. Have your data back-up equipment kept in good working condition.
Have an up-to-date inventory of your assets. Review your insurance policies to ensure that you have adequate coverage for items you cannot afford to lose. A standard policy may not cover business interruption losses.
Store your documents safely and efficiently. Keep duplicates of personnel, payroll, payables and receivables and other essential records at an off-site location. Regularly make back-up copies of important computer files.
Establish a succession of management for the company. Determine who will manage the company to ensure business continuity if key leaders are unavailable.