Prepare Now for Business Interruption
- October 17, 2018
- Posted by: thinkjcw
- Category: Safety Articles
Do you have a business continuity plan you can count on?
Approximately 70% of Americans have at least some form of evacuation plan at home, but only
25% of small businesses have a disaster plan. Make sure you are prepared by taking these steps
to create a customized business continuity plan.
Step 1: Assemble Your Team
Mitigating and recovering from disasters is a team effort and takes a well – developed plan. All
facets of your organization must be prepared – therefore everyone should be involved in the
planning process. First, establish leadership support within your organization for internal
resources and any budget line items. Build a consensus among the leaders of your organization
and designate at least one person from each department to participate on the team. This group
will also serve as the emergency response team during any disaster, so members must represent
all disciplines in the company. Once your team is established, you can begin assigning roles and
responsibilities for strategy development and plan execution.
Remember, is it the responsibility of this team to provide guidance, oversight and approval of
resources for the program. This group should also facilitate the implementation and routine
testing of the program, ensure collaboration and buy-in across all departments and execute the
plan should the need arise.
Step 2: Assess Possible Risks and Threats
Your business is unique- as are the potential risks and threats you may face. Understanding your
vulnerability to weather – related disasters is one thing. But understanding your vulnerabilities
to more isolated incidents, including those affecting suppliers, vendors and key partners is a
whole different ball game. Make a list and think through the implications. First, identify the
risks and then prioritize them by likelihood and impact. You can use a quantitative method to
prioritize by attaching higher numerical values to threats with greater frequency or likelihood of
occurrence, as well as higher values for those that have more significant potential impact on
operations. Finally, begin the process of mitigating those risks and threats that pose the greatest
potential for a significant interruption.
Step 3: Analyze Your Critical Business Functions
If your entire office was destroyed what would you need to do to keep your business running?
Any activity that is vital to your organization’s survival is considered a critical business Prepare Now for Business Interruption function and must be protected and recovered as quickly as possible. Typically, critical functions are those that are (1) most sensitive to downtime, (2) fulfill legal/financial obligations, (3) play a key role in maintaining your business’ market share/ reputation/revenue, and/or (4)safeguard an irreplaceable asset.It may seem easy to identify these functions, but it can be challenging to accurately define the, because there are realistic limits on time, money and resource allocations, prioritizing these functions will be necessary during the strategy development process and during recovery. The key to this process is conducting a simple
business impact analysis (BIA).
Step 4: Develop an Emergency Management Plan
By using information from assessing risks and identifying critical business functions, you can
now start establishing continuity and recovery strategies. To do so, you will need to first
address the functional needs and infrastructure required to protect (1) the safety of staff and
guests, (2) the most-time sensitive functions and (3) those that have the greatest effect on the
overall reputation and financial stability of the organization.
Here are the initial steps on developing a plan:
• Review the technical, logistical, staffing and financial needs of proposed solutions.
• Identify any possible alternative or tertiary recovery solutions.
• Analyze the advantages and disadvantage of each, paying special attention to the cost
(include both preparatory/implementation costs, as well as execution costs and the time
• Summarize with a cost/benefit analysis, side by side, with each possible solution.
One thing will become painfully evident after discussing the first few mitigation and recovery
strategy options: the faster you wish to recover, the more complex and costly it will become. At
this point you need to determine how to best accommodate your company’s recovery needs,
whether it is an internal process or executed based on present conditions. Remember, the goal is
to protect your most important operations from the most prevalent and potentially damaging
Get everyone on board
• Listen carefully to everyone’s concerns
• Encourage staff to participate in all facets of planning
• Seek out difference of opinion to ensure all disciplines have their say
• Search for alternatives that meet everyone’s goals
• Avoid changing your mind simply to avoid conflict
Prepare Now for Business Interruption
• Don’t just argue for your own point of view
• Balance power across all departments and leadership centers
• Allocate time for everyone to have a voice in the process
Step 5: Establish A Shelter- In -Place and Evacuation Plans
Evacuating or taking shelter at work occurs more often than many people realize. The goal is
ensuring your staff knows where and how to take shelter inside your building or evacuate
efficiently. Begin by outlining the threats to consider, and then institute a plan. At a minimum,
all plans should include:
• Commonly accepted method for reporting fires and other emergencies
• Evacuation policy and procedures
• Shelter- in- place policy procedures
• Emergency route assignments, maps and signage
• Names, titles, departments and contact information for the evacuation and shelter
manager, as well as floor or department wardens
• Procedures for safely shutting down operations and systems during evacuation
• Plans for accommodating those with special needs (sight or hearing impaired, mentally or
physically handicapped, children, elderly, non-English-speaking)
• Plans for any medial or rescue training
Step 6: Create A Crisis Communications Plan
When a disaster occurs, communication needs to happen immediately. Your employees,
customers and stakeholders will look to you for real-time information, wanting to understand
how they will be affected. Business functions are all about people, process and technology- all
of which require communication. Consider both internal and external communications when
developing the plan. Important elements include alert notifications, media relations and how to
craft messages in the wake of a crisis. Remember to account for possible interruptions to mobile
update your website and social media networks, as those are often the first sources of
information your audiences use. Consider having media relations training for those responsible
for interacting with the press.
Step 7: Build A Disaster Recovery Kit
Food, water and first aid are the first things that come to mind in a disaster recovery kit. While
they are essential items to include, have you considered what your business would need to
survive in the event of a crisis? A comprehensive kit should not only provide for employee
health and safety, but also help to protect continuity of critical functions.
Prepare Now for Business Interruption
Be sure to include:
• Important login credentials
• Your recovery plans
• Extra currency
• Company letterhead
• Any critical paperwork or information like contracts or legal documents
Kits should also include:
• First aid kits,
• Emergency food and water rations
• Supplies like tools, weather radios, batteries and flashlights.
There are many sources of emergency kits available online, but always ensure they are
specifically tailored to fit the critical function needs of your business.
Step 8: Backup Your Data
Almost three quarters of organizations worldwide are not taking adequate steps to protect their
data and IT systems. Ideally, you should backup data daily and test it from a remote location.
But there are always new tools and methods available, and you must determine not only the risk
your organization faces, but what solutions are most appropriate. The constant evolution of
business continuity requires continuous attention. Ideally, you should align the data and security
strategy with your overall business continuity plan to ensure the risks that threaten critical
functions are properly addressed and mitigated in IT and date security. Most importantly, you must prepare for both internal and external threats, as well as those that are natural or man-made.
Identify Potential Threats
• Weather – related disasters
• Facility location
• Facility design/construction
• Technology failures
• Cyber threats
• Isolated Incidents
• Supply chain disruption
• Pandemic Outbreak
• Workplace violence
• Organized/deliberate disruptions
Prepare Now for Business Interruption
Step 9: Prepare Your Employee
Chances are your people are your most valuable asset. Without employees who would know
what to do when disaster strikes, your ability to conduct business as usual could be severely
impaired. But beyond simply knowing what to do to restore critical functions at work, your
employees’ personal preparedness is equally important. If they cannot leave home or aren’t
willing to report to work due to emergencies at home, they won’t be able to contribute to your
organization’s recovery. Therefore, encourage them to have an emergency preparedness plan
for themselves and their families. Prepare them for elements like working from home or
performing functions outside their typical responsibility. Help by planning for accommodating
transportation issues or providing childcare at your place of business. One of the most important
things you can do to assist your employees and their families is to encourage them to draw upon
resources provided by Ready.gov or the American Red Cross to better prepare.
Step 10: Determine Your Power Needs
Nearly three quarters of businesses within the United States will lose power sometime in the
next 12 months. Since every organization has different power needs, it’s important to
understand your risk and your building’s power requirements. Of the business interruptions that
can cause the most damage to revenue and reputation, power outages rank at the top for both
frequency and impact. Before you can recover however, you must first understand your needs.
These are simple questions for an electrician to answer, and could dramatically improve your
response time following an interruption. Remember, generators and power recovery equipment
providers are a limited resource. Knowing what you need and how to obtain it in a short time
frame could make or break a recovery. Key steps include: (1) talking to an electrician about
your needs, (2) backing up data regularly, (3) installing at least one land-line telephone, (4)
having all IT equipment connected to UPS [Uninterruptible Power Supply] devices, and (5)
installing an on-site generator. Though all of these steps might not be possible, taking any of
these measures will help your recovery timeframe after a power outage.
Step 11: Find an Alternative Place to Work
When it comes to disaster preparedness, many organizations focus their attention primarily on
IT-related incidents. However, without a place for employees to work, having access to
applications, data and IT infrastructure is useless. If your offices were destroyed or inaccessible,
how would you continue operations? Determine which option is best for your organization and
how to implement these plans. Testing your strategy is an incredibly important part of this step,
and though it may seem complicated and expensive, it could be the most valuable time you
spend. You can look to suppliers and vendors or other partners to offer space, or turn to an
outside vendor. Hot sites and cold sites can help with immediate occupancy, but may be cost
Prepare Now for Business Interruption prohibitive. Therefore, sharing recovery space or having an “on demand” vendor is a viable
alternative. Regardless, you must have a plan for the worst-case scenario so losing access to
your primary location.
Steps to A Simple Business Impact Analysis
• For each business unit, identify al routine, critical processes and their major attributes and
any inter-departmental dependencies.
• Identify the staff who must be available and actively working for the function to remain
• Specify any equipment, applications or tools that must be available to active staff.
• Estimate the maximum amount of time your organization can remain viable without this
function in place.
• Determine subjectively the impact (both quantitative and qualitative) that the loss of this
function has on the organization.