Disaster Management: Plan Ahead
Pull It Together
It’s not easy to get the various functional groups to take time from the urgency of their regular work to do the necessary planning. “It’s a very daunting task, just the scope of trying to get it all worked out,” cautions David Crow, corporate manager of asset protection at Atlanta-based Home Depot Direct. “For example, we have three call centers in different locations. So I need three different contingency plans and staffing plans. One plan won’t address all three facilities,” because the physical and labor conditions vary at each.
When you start the planning process, Crow explains, focus on one step at a time. “Each area of the business has its own issues,” he says. “You just have to bring them together. We’ll pull the IT people or the inventory management people, or the call center people into a room and ask, ‘If this happens, what do you do?’ We pick their brains and then streamline. Then we ask them, ‘If we did it this way, would it be easier, better or worse?’”
Rogers and Crow agree that you can divide the subject of business continuity into a few main areas:
• facilities and their contents, including merchandise; and
• data and data management systems.
No one area necessarily is harder to plan for or harder to implement. It depends on the specific nature of any given disaster, which can be natural, technological or human in origin.
For example, if there’s a hurricane, you may have plenty of time to transfer your data to a backup site. But you may not be able to get your people back to work if their homes have been damaged or their families are harmed. After enduring a power failure, Hammacher Schlemmer’s people were ready to work, but the sustained loss of electricity took a toll on systems and facilities. Crow described the tools of surviving a disaster as similar to a deck of cards: “Hand me your crisis and I’ll pull out the cards to deal with it.”