I Want to Make a Business Preparedness Plan: Now What?
Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best aren’t enough when it comes to business preparedness. Developing a sound plan to sustain your business in the event of an emergency is vital to keeping your doors open.
Nobody can predict the future; but with some advance planning, you can improve your company’s chances of surviving a major disruption.
Step 1: Program Management
- Form a committee or department charged with developing and maintaining your business preparedness plan.
- Provide a funding source or mechanism for whatever contingency plans the committee develops. (This will probably include business insurance.)
- Identify any government or corporate regulations that may affect your plans, such as Occupational Safety & Health Administration requirements.
Step 2: Planning
- Gather information about hazards and assess risks. This should include determining events that are more likely to occur in your area – for instance, if your business is located in an area at risk of tornadoes or hurricanes.
- Conduct a business impact analysis to determine the likely consequences of a disruption in business (for instance, if you run a store that has to be closed for a week).
- Examine and consider ways to reduce risk and limit loss through mitigation plans.
Step 3: Implementation
The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests that you craft a preparedness plan that addresses:
- Resource management: Assess what resources you might need if a disaster were to strike, from personnel to communications equipment to other needs, and make a plan to ensure your business has everything it needs on hand.
- Emergency response: Conduct a risk assessment to help determine what types of emergencies are likely to occur, and make a plan that addresses how your business will protect people on the premises and stabilize the incident.
- Crisis communications: Know how you’ll get important messages to employees, customers and other stakeholders if an emergency strikes.
- Business continuity: How will you keep your business running in the wake of an emergency?
- Information technology and data protection: Plan for how you’ll get your technology back up and running after an emergency.
- Employee assistance: Think about how you plan to communicate with employees and help and support them after a disaster.
- Incident management: Coordinate all the efforts to manage your business’ response to an emergency.
- Training: Make sure your employees know what to do – just in case.
Step 4: Testing and Exercises
Test and evaluate your plan by conducting a variety of exercises to determine how well-versed your employees are in the plan and how effective the plan is.
Step 5: Program Improvement
Assess your company’s planned response to the exercises; determine any weak points, whether in the plan itself or execution of it. Ensure employees are fully trained in any changes made.
In the event of an actual incident, conduct a thorough critique of the response, and include any lessons learned as improvements to the plan.
Continue evaluating the plan during times of normal operations. Remember that any major changes to the company or personnel may need to include a review of the emergency plan.
Business Impact Analysis: http://www.ready.gov/business-impact-analysis
Sample Plan: http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/sampleplan.pdf
Federal Emergency Standards: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/evaluate.html