“Disruption” isn’t a cool, trendy word when applied in its original meaning. Nowhere is this truer than when you use the word after a typhoon smashes its way through your location, creating problems that bleed your organization of its resources. The extent of the damage will depend on the strength of the extreme weather and your business’s capability to respond to risks.
The Best Defense is Offense
The Philippines doesn’t have the kind of preparation businesses and residents would like. This, even though about 20 typhoons pass through the country every year.
For starters, basic services, particularly in remote areas, are going to be delayed for weeks. People could have to spend weeks or even months without electricity or potable water, and for those in heavily affected areas, they may have to live in crowded evacuation centers for days on end.
No business wants to respond the way the Philippine government responds to a natural calamity. Otherwise, you might have to deal with losses you’ll have to pay for years to come. But aside from profit losses and further expenses, disrupted operation is also going to affect the community you serve.
When you provide jobs to residents and basic goods to consumers, you have a responsibility to resume business. As such, it’s critical to get your business continuity plan (BCP) just right. With adequate planning, your business can mitigate the devastation from typhoons and restore services to people.
So how do you go about it?
Determine Risks, Assess Vulnerability
An effective plan covers activities that are adequate for the scale of the incident, at its maximum level. So you must determine what you need to prepare for when a typhoon comes. Is your business in an area prone to landslides or flooding? Does your facility need to deal with water contamination or water shortage? Are falling power lines an issue?
You need to list the risks your business faces and rate them according to likelihood and impact.
Next, assess which area of your business is going to be hit the most. Are you looking at a cut off supply chain due to impassable roads? Will your workforce be reduced significantly because of flooding? Is your call center going to be out of commission because of communication systems are down?
Determine the risks and assess where vulnerabilities lie, and you’ll have the appropriate steps and funding for your BCP. Of course, the information you collect will also help you decide which insurance plans to get for your business.
Preparation Before, During, and After
Preparation is essential in three stages. It allows your business to maintain organization, especially when weather reports indicate devastation with a typhoon.
You need to identify the people who will be responsible for certain aspects of your BCP. Who’s going to head the command center? Who’s going to take care of communications? And if it applies, who’s handling media outreach? Here you’ll also need to determine what equipment and tools you’ll need; if you anticipate cell sites to be down in certain areas, sat phones might be worth investing in for your operations.
When you have employees working in the field, you need to coordinate search and rescue; have emergency response in place for handling electrical hazards or chemical spills in your facility. Follow a protocol for ensuring your employees’ safety and the steps to take to stabilize a situation. This should include asset protection. Whether you’re dealing with manufacturing equipment or software and hardware, you need to safeguard your business assets.
Finally, survey the damage. What can your business salvage? Which part of your business can resume operations immediately? How do you communicate with suppliers, partners, and employees during this recovery period?
No matter what industry you’re in, your business needs to resume operations as soon as possible. It’s crucial to bounce back not just for the sake of your bottom line, but also for the sake of the community you serve.