Business Continuity is Essential

by | April 21, 2010

Our guest blog post this week is from Pete DiSantis of Peter DiSantis Consulting Associates.  Pete will also be our guest presenter at the April Equinox Focus Event “Beating Your Competition through Contingency Planning.” 


You lock your house, your office, your car.  You buy insurance for your house, your office, your car… even your life, your health and more.  You put perishable food in the fridge. What are you doing but safeguarding the things you value?

You have business plans, financial plans, marketing plans, sales plans and operations plans to keep your business running but are you prepared with a business disruption plan?  If the answer is no, you are not alone…but ‘not alone’ doesn’t make it right. Or smart.

NPR recently reported a comparison between the disasters in Haiti and Chile.  An earthquake expert said in essence: “Earthquakes are not natural disasters. They are human disasters.”  Now you can take that statement in two ways: 1) The loss of human life is certainly a disaster at any time or 2) Human error failed to mitigate the damage.  It’s important to understand that poor building codes and construction killed 200 times more people in Haiti (7.0 earthquake) than in Chile with a much stronger earthquake (8.8-magnitude).

But this is not Haiti or Chile and how many U.S. businesses are prepared for the loss of revenue during a severe disruption?  Are you? The US government claims that 25% of businesses never reopen after a disaster but you don’t need to add to their statistics.  Prove them wrong.  Loss of revenue after a disruption is not a disaster if you prepare and plan for it. The loss of revenue may be mitigated, even eliminated altogether. 

In the Seattle Metropolitan area, three recent winters caused business disruptions in the Puget Sound area.  Windstorms crippled both residences and businesses for weeks during 2006.  Interstate-5 was closed due to flooding in 2007 and record snow knocked out commerce in 2008.  Maybe your business made it through but maybe next time it won’t!

You never know when a disruption will occur but you can be prepared whenever it arrives.  Somewhere between “emergency preparedness” which is a 3-day supply of food and water to “disaster recovery” which is cleaning debris, emerges “business continuity”.

With business continuity, you plan now to maintain a revenue stream during a disruption or as soon thereafter as possible.  The cause of the disruption is not important.  Wind, flood and snow will all affect your business differently.  The issue is the disruption— to your cash flow, your communications, your staffing, customer relations, facilities, computer systems, operations and supply chain.

When one area is impacted, it can easily domino through other parts of the business.  Maybe weather issues create a disruption in several areas but because you have planned for a disruption to the areas individually, you can now group the plans including solutions for the external issue at hand.  Through the most severe conditions, you can keep your business running by planning now—and this, while your competition is closed! 

It’s true the unexpected happens.  Plan now to be prepared.