Extreme weather events are occurring more frequently each year, with small and young businesses more vulnerable to weather-related losses. While you cannot control the weather, having adequate insurance coverage and a business continuity plan in place positions you for rapid recovery should a disaster strike. In this piece, we’ll walk you through four steps to developing a business continuity plan.
1. Build Your Business Continuity Team
Before you start developing your plan, gather input from team members or outside experts who can offer professional advice on all of the different aspects of your business, including finance, technology, marketing, and insurance. Regardless of the size of your business, you can leverage the various types of expertise available among your employees to create a solid plan from all angles.
2. Identify Perils and Capabilities
The next step is to identify potential risks—such as hurricane or fire exposures—and the threats they present to your business and staff. Have everyone on your team compile a list of likely negative outcomes in the event of an outage, and then prioritize them. Think in terms of categories, such as life-threatening, business-crippling, inconvenient, or temporarily avoidable. In addition to understanding internal effects, it’s also important to consider how these risks could affect critical vendors and customers.
3. Develop a Plan
Your plan should clearly spell out—in writing—how your business will operate after a disaster occurs. Address the specific processes your team will need to follow to handle the aftermath. The plan should include defined responsibilities, means of communication, methods for maintaining security and critical functions, and proposed timeframes for accomplishing each step. Everyone in the company should know the plan and understand what to do in the event of an outage. Finally, it’s important to make your plan readily accessible to all, even if you aren’t able to enter your building.
4. Test and Implement the Plan
Having a plan won’t make a difference if you aren’t prepared to enact it. Make sure your team is trained, prepared and tested. Ensuring everyone is knowledgeable and on the same page about evacuation plans, alarm systems, shutdown procedures, offsite server access, and cross-training for key positions is an important step. As you roll out and test your plan, learn everything you can from your drills to determine weaknesses, and revise the plan as necessary.
Inevitably, your business will grow, employees will come and go, and roles will change. Make sure you periodically revisit both your insurance policies and your business continuity plan to adjust for these changes—especially following an interruption or a near-miss, as these events can expose gaps in preparation.
For more tips on creating your own business continuity plan after an unexpected interruption, check out our sample disaster preparedness and continuity plan for hurricanes and tropical storms.
This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Liberty Mutual’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional advisor regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Liberty Mutual is not endorsing them.