You can’t predict the unexpected, but you can prepare. A Business Continuation Plan (BCP) costs almost nothing to produce but is critical to recovering losses, and customers, after a disaster. This three-part Disaster Recovery blog series will address important considerations for business continuity after a disaster.

The details that you include in your Business Continuation Plan (BCP) will depend on the particular needs of your business, but there are some key components that should to be included in every disaster plan:

BePreparedCommunications: Have a planned method to communicate with your employees. Communicating with your employees is critical because they are the ones that will help you recover from a disaster. If you have a smaller workforce, have your employee list with home phone, cell phone and email address handy. An alternate contact name and phone number may also be helpful, especially for the employee that lost their home in the disaster and does not have a cell phone.

Vendors: Vendors can be very helpful recovering from a disaster. They may have the knowledge that you need to get your computer systems back up and running. They may provide temporary employees that can help keep your business running while your employees are not able to work. Vendors may have backup copies of your systems and data. Vendors may have other businesses in their network that will be able to temporarily produce what your customers need.

Customers: Your customers will hear about your disaster and immediately wonder how you will keep your promises to deliver the products and services that they need. Consider keeping customer contact information in a location that will be accessible to you even if you cannot go to your business or access your systems. It may help to prepare some boilerplate messages that you could modify and give to the press. Please note, what you say to the press is crucial and there are professional marketers that can help you prepare statements to use in the event of a disaster.

Systems: The more our systems enhance our business, the more reliant we are on our systems. If your system is key to the continued operation of your business, identify a vendor or business friend that can provide you with a way to operate this necessary system. Look for options that will back up your system and allow you to run it remotely.

Facility:  Your building and other assets may be instrumental to keeping your business running. Good property insurance is a must. Eliminate hazards from your property that could cause a disaster. Have a plan to provide a temporary office facility in case of an emergency. Develop a relationship with a vendor that could produce what your customers need if your facility becomes damaged. Keep an eye on the marketplace and know what resources are available to help accelerate your business’s recovery.

Society Insurance has developed a BCP for our business so that we will be there for our policyholders whether or not we have a disaster at the same time.

-Ken Stephani, CPA, CIA