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Are You Ready for Some Snow (or Wind or Rain)?

If you live in North Carolina, the past week was challenging. It started with a federal holiday and ended with up to a foot of snow. How prepared was your business?

If you were scrambling to run things from home, here are some steps you can take to make it easier next time there’s a disaster.

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.

Next, consider how to lessen these risks. The objective is to compile a detailed step-by-step guide to getting your business running again when the power goes out, the flood waters rise or the snow falls.

  • Have a file you can reach from anywhere with contact information for all employees.

  • Know how you will communicate with employees about cancellations, delayed openings, ability to work from home and other critical information. Will you need a service to send out this information?

  • Then, compile a file of 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 sure you update employee records to the emergency list as part of the hiring and termination process. Then, 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).

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