As a Houston-based organization, the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey is something that weighs heavily on us and our communities. Its wake has left us humbled and reminded us that things we take for granted as ‘stable’ can change very quickly. Many of us were faced with tough choices and situations that made us reconsider our priorities and, ultimately, answered the questions: What would we do in the face of a disaster? How would we respond? How would our business respond?

As we continue to put our lives back together and begin to move forward one day-at-a-time, business owners are especially aware of the importance of planning and preparing for the next time that our is affected. When businesses are lost because of a disaster, the effects are felt well beyond that one business, the entire community suffers. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s infographic guide to making your business resistant states that 40%-60% of businesses affected by a major disaster never reopen. That might be true but think about what that means for their employees, their families and businesses that depend on the commerce of the region.

Business continuity planning is integral for every business. Regardless of your business’ size or industry, there are a few commonalities that need to be taken into consideration when planning for the future. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council goes into much greater detail concerning the components of a business continuity plan, these five major components should be included with any plan:

  • Personnel
  • Technology
  • Communication
  • Finances
  • Facilities

 We’ve picked out a few select points highlighted by the FFIEC guidelines for business continuity that we know, from our own experience with Hurricane Harvey, to be particularly important. 

1. Your business continuity plan is more than just data backup and technology: You can’t run your enterprise without human resources, finances to pay them with, and a location to work. Ideally, your business continuity plan will allow your enterprise to function even while you’re out of the office–particularly if you don’t have an office to return to following a major disaster.
2. Include vital information from all departments: Consider the minimum needs of each of your enterprise’s departments, the employees to do the work, the technology needed to fulfill their duties, and any materials that may be necessary for production.
3. Regularly revise and practice your plan: As your organization grows, its needs will change in various ways. The same can be said for its business continuity plan. You need to make sure that your plan can adapt and grow according to the requirements of your organization. If your plan fails to do this, and you don’t practice implementing it regularly, you won’t find out until it’s too late to do anything about it.
4. Ensure employee awareness: A business continuity plan is only effective if every employee is aware of it–particularly if it involves evacuating your location and regrouping in a safer one. After all, you have no business without your employees, so keeping them safe should be one of your top priorities.
5. Use Resources to GUIDE your Plan: While it helps to have resources at the ready for building your business continuity plan, it’s important to remember that how well you customize it will be key in determining its true value. Your business continuity plan should be airtight in nature and designed to work specifically for your enterprise’s needs.

Another consideration to make when planning is the fact that our region is vulnerable to other types of natural disasters besides hurricanes and flooding. To make sure all of your bases are covered by your business continuity plan, visit the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s website to make sure you haven’t overlooked any potential threats. Regarding the actual process of building your business continuity plan, has an excellent flow chart that can help you prioritize during the various stages of developing a plan. A great business continuity plan starts with a business impact analysis, which IronEdge Group can provide for your enterprise.

Remember that more than just your business’s future hangs in the balance. It the lives of everyone who you do business with, from employees and their families to 3rd party vendors. If you are ever unsure of how to proceed with your business continuity plan, be sure to reach out to IronEdge.