In a prior blog post, we discussed the value of Business Continuity Planning to help your manufacturing company make it through emergencies and unexpected disasters. A Business Continuity Plan is sometimes confused with Disaster Recovery Plans. They are not the same.
A Business Continuity Plan enables you to keep your business running through an emergency until things have improved to the point where you can implement your Disaster Recovery Plan.
Some experts believe that a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is one of the least expensive forms of insurance you can have for you company, since you can create the plan internally at low cost, and it enables you to keep doing business to some extent during an emergency. Our initial blog post explained how to create such a plan. Here are some quick tips that will make your BCP more effective:
Include a variety of disaster scenarios in your BCP plan. According to experts, fire is the most common hazard to offices. But other dangers include storms like Sandy or even sudden threats of violence from outsiders.
Incorporate an evacuation plan in your BCP, a call tree for employees, and possibly even a block of hotel rooms reserved for your employees—far from your offices—in case the disaster occurs while your facility is open.
Agree on what constitutes activation of the plan. The initial activation may occur through calling the 800 number, accessing Twitter accounts, or other means of communication.
Use cloud support for critical documents. If your main files are safe in the cloud, you can download everything immediately at your recovery site.
Select a recovery site far from your manufacturing facility and/or headquarters. That site must be accessible to employees, but far enough away to insulate it from the disaster that has hit your main location or locations.
Make sure you have a generator at your recover site. Formal Disaster Recovery locations have these. But you may be using an informal location such as a hotel or colleague’s office. So check this out. Remember that many parts of New Jersey lost power for up to two weeks due to Storm Sandy.
Have an 800 number available with updated information and instructions for actions your employees should take during a disaster.
Test your Business Continuity Plan and update it at least once a year.
Provide prepaid cell phones for your employees for emergency communications. Even though some cell phones may stop work, the satellite system you select may remain in tact.
Create Twitter accounts for all employees to be used in emergencies. Inform employees of the handles for important personnel. This is an inexpensive means of emergency communication that may work even when certain land lines and voice cell phone systems fail.
Put your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in a colorful binder (neon red or orange) that is has a distinctive look.
Place the BCP Binder in a visible location where employees can see it and access it. The binder will act to reminder to employees that the plan has been created and tested.
Provide all key personnel with one or more copies of the BCP Binder. Ask them to keep one copy at home and one in their car.
NJMEP is partnering with Firestorm to offer NJ manufacturers a complimentary Business Continuity Assessment. The assessment, which is typically valued at $1,800, is offered to NJ manufacturers at no charge through NJMEP. This diagnostic tool will help you evaluate if your facility is prepared for disaster.