Disaster Management: Plan Ahead
So what should you focus on first? Certainly, safety at the moment of the disaster is the most important issue. But immediately after protecting your people, Crow says you need to be able to communicate with customers. Be able to “route your telecommunications, manage data entry and integrity, maintain physical inventory and the movement of inventory so you can fulfill orders,” he says. “We want to be as seamless as possible; the end consumer experiences the effect of the disaster even if not the disaster itself.”
Don’t Lose One Call
Rogers also starts with the customer experience. “The call center experiences this stuff,” he says. “Those guys are the ones who’ll be around in an emergency. We don’t want to lose one call. The first thing is to move the customers.” So Hammacher transfers its calls to an outside supplier and confirms the allocation.
When it comes to your systems, in addition to frequently backing up computer data, you can consider telecommuting, co-locating and outsourcing disaster recovery for your data center. Hammacher conducts a full backup every day that goes to an outside vendor for storage. The company also continuously backs up to a network server. In the event of a disaster, IT brings the disk of archived backup from the outside vendor to a host site and pulls the day’s transaction file from the network server to bring it up to the time of the interruption.
Your internal efforts, no matter how good, still are affected by the post-disaster condition of your suppliers. While his company survived Katrina without any safety or property damage issues, Crow says Home Depot Direct struggled with getting merchandise out without transportation. With that in mind, diversify your telcom suppliers, couriers and product sources. Some small, local suppliers can keep working even when national companies are out of commission, just because they absolutely have to. And they don’t necessarily triage their customers the way big companies do. Rogers points to Hammacher Schlemmer’s tradition in reeling off his company’s preparedness.