Now What Do We Do? Part 2 — Preparing for a Crisis

 I’m pleased to have two guest bloggers this week. Jim Christensen and Michael Collins are crisis planning experts with more than a decade of experience helping companies cope with the most dramatic of changes — a crisis! Jim and Michael share their insights and make a compelling case for advance planning and making sure you have the right experts engaged before you need them!

Create a Business Continuity Plan

by Jim Christensen

Disaster PlannerCan your business survive a fire, power outage, hazmat accident, flooding, your website is down, your #1 supplier has a month-long work stoppage, the death of a key employee?  What is your worst business interruption nightmare?  Give your business the chance to survive and thrive regardless of what happens.  According to the Small Business Administration, 25% of the companies that have a business disaster, but do not have an existing plan to recover never re-open their doors.  According to a study by IBM, half of those that do re-open their doors are out of business within 5 years.  A study done by the University of Minnesota, 80% of companies that have an extended outage never re-open their doors.  No one plans to have a car accident.  No company plans to have a business disaster.  But if we look around, they both happen each and every day of the year.  A business disaster can be fatal to a company.  It does not have to be.

We cannot control the future, but we can do something about its impact.  Having a Business Continuity Management (BCM) Program can enable a company to competitively survive a business disaster.  A BCM Program allows the company to address its risks and exposure upfront using planning, prevention, and mitigation.   A BCM Program can enable the company to keep its clients and keep its revenue stream in the face of an unplanned business interruption.

Planning Meeting

Plan with your team!

A BCM Program is pro-active.  Long before the disaster, the BCM Program identifies the most critical needs of the company and allocates appropriate resources to prevent, mitigate, and react to potential business risks and business interruptions. A BCM Program is dynamic.  After it is created it continues to mirror the evolving needs of the company.  A solid BCM Program has a number of components to it.  And just like eating an elephant, you take it one piece at-a-time.  It is helpful to bring different resources to bear to assist you as you create your BCM Program, your business’ life-jacket. 

One of the components that are key to reacting to any type of business disaster is Crisis Communication.  Who do you tell?  What do you tell?  How do you tell?  When do you tell?  In creating your company’s Crisis Communication Plan it is helpful to utilize an expert in the field.

Have a Disaster Clean-up Plan in Place Before it Occurs

by Michael Collins

The inertia regarding preparing for a disaster is understandable. Business owners’ time is stretched already in dealing with yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s challenges. Who has the time to prepare for something that has a remote chance of even happening?

To encourage preparation ahead of time, let’s consider intervals rather than probabilities. If the probability of snow in a July Chicago is truly zero, then the interval between snowfalls is infinite. Just as the odds of snow in any given September are 10%, that means that one September in ten will have snow. Any probability above zero implies occurrence, which means a predictable interval between July flurries. If the remote

Ready with a plan

Ready with a plan

chance is but 1%, it does still mean that one July per century will see snow. Which also means 99 summers will go 100% snow-less, but one fateful July will have 100% “chance” of snow?  That summer is inevitably coming. It could be next summer, it could be in twenty-seven years; but with a 1% chance, snow is absolutely coming.

So is it with physical damage to commercial property, damage which will to varying degrees interrupt your business’ ability to perform – to take orders, to provide your goods or services, to pay your employees, to invoice for work performed. You have business insurance, so you’ve acknowledged with your hard-earned money that you may indeed have a disaster. This is wise, because you indeed will. You don’t know when, otherwise you’d not take out insurance until then.

So prepare now. Speak with your insurance agent. Prepare your business and your employees. Interview service providers today with the diligence you exercise with the others on your accounts payable lists – meet the providers, ask for and contact their references, establish their capacity to assist you, commit to them to get their commitment to you. When that Monday morning comes with the 1% chance of the upstairs water cooler breaking and running all weekend happens with 100% certainty, you’ll be so very happy to work with people you know rather than trusting the re-opening of your business to strangers.


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