In our last blog, we talked about IT Disaster Recovery Planning and strategies for various scenarios that may take out information systems. While IT Disaster Recovery Preparedness is key to business resilience, it is only one part of overall Business Contingency or Resiliency Planning.
Consider this scenario:
You run a waterjet cutting machine shop that specializes in custom runs for the automotive industry. You just landed a large order and raw materials are in transit. You are also finishing up the previous run, on time, and are about to ship deliverables to a happy client that has no wiggle room built into their own production schedule.
Then a large storm rolls through and tornadic activity takes out a neighboring suburban area.Your shop, thankfully, sustains only minor damage, but the surrounding area is plagued with flooding, downed trees and blocked roads.You have no power at the plant, or your offices, and the power company thinks it may be 3 days before power is restored.
You will not be back up and running before the big shipment comes (if it can even get to you). Outgoing orders are also stalled and employees, many of which lived in the severely affected area, cannot make it into work (besides you still have no electricity).
Now what? Is there a plan in place? Have you ever run through it? Do your employees know about the plan and what’s expected of them? Who is implementing the plan? Is the plan printed in a binder at work? Is it on the hard drive of a computer in the office you cannot access? Is it on a Web based application with an unknown password because everyone relies on browser cookies to save passwords?
The Forrester Research 2014 The State of Business Continuity Preparedness report says that 49% of disasters occur because of IT failure. However, many more, 69% are due to natural disasters, which affect much more than IT and have cascading effects, such as longer term transportation disruptions, power outages and telecommunication failure.
Because of this, many companies are prepared for the IT portion of their disaster, but ill prepared for the workforce, communication and supply chain issues like those in the above scenario.
According to Forrester Research Analyst, Stephanie Balaouras, “Organizations often go to extraordinary lengths to develop disaster plans to address the failover of IT systems to alternate sites but often neglect or underestimate the human aspects such as workforce recovery and crisis or emergency communication.”
In her detailed Forrester report, Balaouras found that businesses who suffered at the hands of a disaster learned three very important lessons:
- There hadn’t been enough training and awareness across the company.
- Plans didn’t adequately address internal communication and collaboration.
- Plans didn’t adequately address communication and collaboration with strategic partners and other third party dependents.
So let’s consider some of the questions which need answered to address these 3 needed planning provisions:
- Have you trained management and staff on specific disaster scenarios?
- Is your plan and training up to date?
- Do you you run through it yearly or biannually?
- Is your plan run with tools or reference materials stored on site? If so, what’s the access plan?
- Do you update the plan after training and testing based on feedback?
- How will you contact customers, employees and vendors immediately after a disaster if you do not have access to the office?
- Who, or what team, is in charge of the implementing the Disaster Plan?
- Do employees have remote access to technology and stored passwords?
- Do employees have communication and telecommuting technology outside the office?
- What’s the plan if those technologies are down for key employees, such as no power or broadband connection?
Third Party Collaboration
- What Disaster Plans do your suppliers and vendors have in place? How do they deal with transportation and other disruptions with their business partners?
- Do you have a partner or contingency office to house key staff outside the affected disaster zone?
- Have you planned for an alternative manufacturing or warehousing site for longer term disasters to help with supply chain management (shipment and storage sites and plans for diverting transit shipments, orders and returns).
There are a lot of near invisible moving parts in business today that will grind to a halt with something as simple as a power outage. For more information about Business Disaster Planning, check out the government resources at Ready.gov/business. And if you’d like help crafting your Disaster Plan, contact us at Parallel Solutions. Don’t wait until disaster strikes. Call us today at (440) 498-9920 and be prepared to make the best of a worst case scenario.