Prepare for the Unexpected with a Business Continuity Plan
Our prayers are with our friends and neighbors who are recovering from Hurricane Matthew. For those of you with small businesses, we'd like to remind you that you can, and should, plan for the unexpected with a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) A BCP allows you to get your business up and running as soon as possible after a disaster. A BCP should include lists of emergency contact information, both internal and external, and a detailed recovery plan should be developed with employees from all business units and levels of your company. Begin by assessing the potential risks to your business’s ability to deliver products or services to customers. You should also assess how to keep your employees safe and how to communicate with them. After determining the risks affecting your business, consider how to mitigate those risks. The objective is to compile a detailed step-by-step guide to getting your business running again.
Have a file you can reach from anywhere with contact information for all employees. Establish a communication mechanism in advance (phone tree, emails, texts, post to company website or intranet, announcement to media, etc.)
Make sure you can contact your insurance company from home.
Ditto for critical customers and suppliers.
Identify an alternate location from which to operate your business in the event your office is inaccessible.
Is your data backed up offsite and able to be reached remotely? Can employees telecommute? Do you have adequate computer security?
How are you protecting and preserving confidential client and employee information?
Once you have all the necessary information, put your plan in writing. Create step-by-step instructions on what to do, who should do it, when it should be done and how. Ensure that critical personnel have copies of the plan and keep a copy off-site, too. Then, practice and maintain your plan. Review your plan periodically and walk through the plan with an imaginary disaster in mind. Make changes where needed. There are a number of websites that offer additional suggestions on developing a BCP, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).