The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, with the height of the season being late August through September. In order to be prepared, companies need to systematically review their business continuity plans (BCP) to ensure continued operations should a natural disaster strike.
Hurricanes can affect the continuity of operations as the result of;
- mandatory evacuations
- extended power outages
- facility damage from high winds or flooding
- potential supply chain interruptions
Critical processes necessary for operation need to be identified. However, updating a BCP should be a continuously evolving process. In a business continuity review, each department should evaluate current critical processes, mitigate identified deficiencies, and update the plan as necessary.
The following concepts should be analyzed and identified for each BCP update and prior to the arrival of hurricane season:
Data and computer needs: Identifying the procedural details of computer backups, data restoration methods, and minimum software requirements are crucial to re-establish critical business processes. Companies may examine data center outsourcing to ensure continuity and accessibility.
Notification lists: Regularly update lists to ensure all contact information is up-to-date. Business continuity planners must be certain that notifications are being delivered to accurate e-mail addresses and/or phone numbers, especially in case of an evacuation. If maintaining accurate contact information is challenging, consider opting for an e-mail notification verification system that enables individuals to verify their own information. Companies can also offer incentives, such as drawings or prizes, to encourage all personnel to register for notifications.
Communication needs: Clear and effective communication channels must remain available in order to disseminate information to employees, assess and relay damage, and coordinate a recovery strategy. A mass notification system, such as provided by Everbridge, may assure a reliable method to communicate to key individuals, company employees, or an entire client base.
Supply Chain: As a company’s needs change and new suppliers come online, plans should be updated to include these critical suppliers. Additionally, preselected alternate resources should be included in the BCP to ensure consistent delivery and continued operations in the event primary suppliers are not able to provide required services.
Essential Personnel: Identify necessary minimum staffing levels to remain on-site during a storm. As the storm passes, ensure staff, contractors, and suppliers understand their individual responsibilities and recovery time objectives.
Equipment needs: Identify and procure necessary equipment and establish processes for continued operations and recovery. This will prevent unnecessary downtime and additional recovery efforts after a hurricane. The process of relocating equipment prior to a storm or arranging for these essentials after a storm is time consuming, labor intensive, and potentially costly.
Through hurricane and BCP exercises and training, employees can react as planned and understand expectations.