More than 150 businesses were shut down, at least temporarily, when wildfires whipped across southern California in October.
If you do business in California , you're vulnerable to fires, earthquakes, storms, and floods. It's imperative that your senior management take responsibility for a Business Continuity Plan. This should protect your business should it encounter such disasters.
Your plan should go beyond the basics, such as safety and evacuation issues, and data backup (you are storing a copy of your data off-site, aren't you?) At the very least, be sure your insurance will cover loss or damage of property, inventory, and equipment.
But there's a lot more to do. Every aspect of your business will feel the impact of a disruptive event, so every department and every staff member should be involved. By allocating time and resources to your plan, you send the message that this is important.
Dependable Computer Guys has outlined a few of the issues you should consider. As a starting point, here is a sample checklist for business and home use. The sample lists will help get you started, but plan on revising these extensively in order to fit your situation. This isn't an absolute list because you need to establish parameters that are appropriate for your business. Here are some of the issues to consider, and questions you should be asking yourself and your staff:
How quickly can you get your operations up and running again? You may need alternate phone and internet resources, not to mention a physical location if you can't return to your company headquarters.
One solution is to have a reciprocal agreement with a non-competing, similar business in another location 20-50 miles away. If your facilities are unavailable in the event of a disaster, you can operate from the other party's location. Likewise, they would operate from yours if a disaster impacted their business place.
Another solution is to use laptops and home computers to conduct business after a disaster. But to make this work, you need to plan ahead. You should establish the resources that are available, and assign key responsibilities to specific people.
Inventory and supplies are another concern. Aside from insurance to cover the economic loss, how will you physically replace essential goods and material? Can you re-source from an alternate supplier? How much of a delay will this entail, and what will be the effects of a delay?
Your business continuity plan has to reach farther than the contingency plans you put in place to protect your home and your family. Survival is just the first step. You need to continue operations and generate revenue as soon as possible or your business could face broader, more persistent financial problems.
In the late 1990s, Deutsche Bank started testing its Business Continuity Plan every six months. When their headquarters in the World Trade Center were destroyed in the attacks on September 11, 2001, they were able to make a quick recovery while other companies limped along for months or even years. This is what a good plan can do.
How ready is your business? Commit the manpower and resources to get the job done. To do nothing is treacherous.
About Brent Whitfield
Brent Whitfield is CEO of DCG Technical Solutions, Inc., which provides IT Support in the Los Angeles area since 1993. DCG exists to help our clients choose, implement, and manage IT and cloud solutions that are cost effective and reliable. DCG's pro-active approach to IT is ideally suited for companies who depend on reliable IT infrastructure, but don't want to spend a lot of money to keep it that way. DCG was recognized among the Top 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP Mentor. Brent has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business.