SURVIVING THE STORMS
Planning can speed business’ disaster recovery
By Jim Kendall
This column originally appeared in the May 25, 2015 Daily Herald
The disaster isn’t always a tornado that flattens your building or straight line winds that take the roof. The problem could be a fire next door; a hazmat situation; a rain-swollen creek that isolates your facility, or something else.
Chicago and its suburbs don’t necessarily face all the business-disrupting threats other communities do, and planning ways to recover from a disaster isn’t necessarily fun. Neither, however, is later ruminating, “I wish I had. . .”
A little advance planning can help your business – including you and your employees – survive whatever disaster occurs.
Actually, you’ll need two plans. One should be distributed to all employees, telling them where the safest places might be in a crisis – depending on the situation perhaps the basement, a reinforced interior room or a marked evacuation route. The second plan should help you get the business back in business after the immediate crisis passes.
Among the people you’ll want to talk with, preferably before a disaster strikes, are your commercial insurance agent; your IT provider; and perhaps local first responders and emergency management staff. There are helpful websites to visit, too.
Recovery topics to review include:
* Insurance. Business interruption coverage, for example, can be especially important, according to Tim Lavin, president, The Lavin Insurance Agency, Schaumburg.
Business interruption insurance, which Lavin says typically is sold as part of an overall package, can replace income your business loses because a fire or other disaster has destroyed your building. Coverage isn’t open-ended, though. Lavin says you’ll need records that document your revenue stream.
* Data recovery, potentially easier if you use some type of cloud storage service. Your outside IT provider or in-house IT manager should be part of your recovery planning team. The day after is one day too late to begin thinking about data backup.
* Noses. Whether it’s the basement or a pre-determined gathering place away from your structure, employees should know where to head during a disaster. Count the noses, so you can quickly determine whether anyone is missing.
Make certain your safe place has first aid kits, fresh water, non-perishable food and similar supplies.
* How to reach employees with information. They’ll want to know the status of your business; how their fellow employees fared, and both when and where (temporary facilities) they might return to work. Telephone trees still are effective, but need advance preparation.
Suppliers and larger customers would like similar information.
The topics above all meld into your business continuity plan. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety provides a free OFB (Open for Business) EZ Planning Guide at www.disastersafety.org. Click the Commercial tab, then Business Continuity Planning.
Useful information at www.ready.gov/business suggests an early assessment of “how your company functions, both internally and externally, to determine which staff, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary” can help restore company operations as quickly as possible.