Disaster Management: Plan Ahead
So you may want to consider a mix of both national and local suppliers as backups.
How to Start
1. Have good people
2. Have an active safety committee (which Hammacher has).
3. Inspect your facilities a few times a year.
4. Distribute a company disaster manual, detailing what to do when something bad happens.
“Every supervisor in the building is supposed to have [the disaster manual] so they’ll know who to call in the management team and the emergency phone number for the power provider,” Rogers says. “The basic instructions are posted throughout the building, too. I was impressed when I got the book; it’s pretty darn thorough and it gets updated by the staff.”
From Crow’s perspective, the most important thing is to know that every business is at risk for a terminal interruption. “Assess your business,” he advises. “What are your risks? If you don’t know your risks, you don’t know how to play the game. Then describe the different scenarios you might face.” Even disasters that don’t affect you directly can interrupt the continuity of your business. “What about your vendors? They might have hurricanes even if you don’t.”
Whether you’re just getting started or you’re looking to make your plan more robust, there are plenty of resources available, including the following Web sites:
• www.ready.gov; and
The Department of Homeland Security has a sample emergency plan with easy-to-use templates for businesses. The May 2006 issue of Harvard Business Review has a comprehensive checklist for dealing with an avian flu pandemic that can be modified for other kinds of disasters.
You can’t anticipate every kind of danger or damage, and in the thick of an emergency, many normal operating niceties and safeguards may be ignored. According to Crow, the crucial thing is to build a basic and actionable level of functioning. After a disaster, he says, “You don’t need to be the Cadillac of operations. At the end of the day, what are the basic operations that you have to have in place to sell product A to customer B and deliver it on time?” Sounds like a plan. «