Business Disaster Planning Guidance

 

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The Need for Business Continuity Planning

Whether it’s big or small, caused by nature, technical problems or human error, any emergency can bring about catastrophic consequences and enormous costs to your business operations. The result: property damage, interruption of operations, lost revenues, inability to meet legal requirements, frustration for customers, loss of confidence in your business, damage to your business’s reputation and to the reputations of your business’s management practices, management team and staff. In fact your business may be irreparably damaged, it might never recover, it could cease to exist. Emergencies and business disruptions will occur but these dismal outcomes can be prepared for and largely prevented through proactive ‘Business Continuity Planning’, giving your business a much better chance of recovery and survival.

In emergency situations or during any business interruption it is critical that you make the right decisions and get the immediate threat to your organization and its employees under control. During and after an emergency or interruption your organization must resume its essential functions, its mission critical functions as quickly as possible. At the time of an emergency or business interruption, the one thing that all organizations have working against them is time. Lost time translates into dissatisfied customers, lost revenue and more.

What is Business Continuity Planning?

Business continuity planning is a pro-active process that can be undertaken at the department or enterprise-wide level, regardless of the size of the business. It is intended to ensure that an organization will remain able to perform its essential functions in the event of a disruption to normal business activities. In the business continuity planning process each organization must determine what its essential functions are, assess the real and anticipated risks to those functions, develop measures and plans that will mitigate those risks and enable the organization to carry on and recover business functions during and after the interruptive event. The resulting plans should describe the strategies, procedures and resources that will be utilized to enable the organization to continue essential functions regardless of whether or not systems are operational, facilities and infrastructure services are available, or other inter-dependent organizations are viable.

Reasons for Having a Business Continuity Plan

These are just a few of the reasons why business continuity planning is valuable and necessary:

  • Ensure the continuity of services
  • Protect the rights, property, health and safety of staff and customers. Protects the organization’s reputation and preserves customer confidence
  • Some problems will be overlooked, ignored, or work will not be completed on time if you do not plan in advance
  • Without planning and prioritizing there will not be enough money or time to fix everything in the short term and effectively get the organization back to its pre-interruption state
  • Planning ahead helps to prevent a disruption
  • Exercising the plan allows for a test under controlled conditions and trains staff to react appropriately and efficiently to a real event
  • Without planning it is impossible to ensure that other organizations and groups, both internal and external, will have viable working systems in the event of a widespread event. Pro-active planning anticipates and prepares for this eventuality.
  • Provides strategies for an organization to meet legal and / or regulatory responsibilities
  • Prevents loss of revenue
  • Prevents loss of employee productivity
  • Prevents loss of historical records of value and knowledge

Planning Guides and Resources

Palm Beach County Small Business Disaster Survival Planning Guide

This website was developed by the Palm Beach County Public Safety Department, Division of Emergency Management, and the Palm Beach County Economic Development Office to assist small business owners in preparing hurricane survival and recovery plans tailored specifically to their business. The guide can be accessed at:

For more information

Other Disaster Planning Resources for Businesses

SecureFlorida.org
http://www.secureflorida.org/2011/business/

Florida Disaster.org
http://www.floridadisaster.org/DEMbusiness.asp
http://www.floridadisaster.org/business/

Florida Disaster Survival Guide (Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council)
http://www.fldisasterkit.com/business_disaster_guide.shtml

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
Develop and Implement Emergency Action Plans (OSHA)
http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/eap.html

American Red Cross Ready Rating Assessment
http://www.readyrating.org/About/AbouttheProgram.aspx

Disaster Resistant Business Toolkit
An easy to use, customizable, interactive, software application to help all-sized businesses in building their emergency program including creating or enhancing their company’s disaster plan developed by the Disaster Resistant Business Toolkit Workgroup a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The DRBTW consists of Business Continuity, Emergency Management, planning and training experts from government and all-sized companies who collaborated to develop this software tool that would assist small to midsize businesses build their own disaster plans. (There is a charge for this service)
http://www.drbtoolkit.org/

Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS):
http://www.disastersafety.org/open-for-business/

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):
A Step-by-Step Approach to Emergency Planning, Response and Recovery for Companies of All Sizes
http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/bizindst

Ready.gov Business Preparedness Programs
http://www.ready.gov/business
http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/sampleplan