Tag: Business Continuity Plan

Power Outage At Work


Some statistics for small business.

No Business PlanYou’ve seen the stats here before. Check out numbers from a June 2015 Nationwide Insurance survey:

  • 75% of small business owners say they don’t have a disaster plan. (This is UP from the 72% we’ve quoted before!)
  • 38% don’t even think a disaster plan is important.
  • Unfortunately, a business without a plan has a poor chance of recovery after a disaster. FEMA reports that 43% of them will never reopen, and another 25% will close their doors after one year. That means that after a disaster, nearly three-quarters of businesses without a plan will be gone.

Who knows what the numbers will tell us after the recent one-two-three punch from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria!

No matter what the exact numbers are, operating without a plan leaves your customers in the cold, your employees without a job, and your investment down the tubes.

If you don’t already have a plan, what might spur you to action? Consider this . . .

Let’s take a look at just one risk that you are surely familiar with.

One company we follow is Agility Recovery. As its name suggests the company offers recovery solutions – four main ones (office space, power, communications, computer systems).

In its 25 years of business, Agility has responded to one type of emergency more than twice as often as any other —

Loss of power!

Further, according to Agility Recovery,

  • Nearly 70% of businesses will lose power sometime in the next 12 months.

So, where does your company stand on being ready to withstand a power outage?

“Well, I think we have a back-up generator on premises!”

That’s a start. Again, thanks to some resources offered by Agility Recovery, Popular Mechanics and The Home Depot, here are

Ten questions for your next conversation about power outages at work.

  1. Do employees have emergency kits with flashlights? Are the batteries fresh? Are the flashlights hand-crank?
  2. Do you have emergency radios so you can get the news and weather? Again, fresh batteries, hand-crank or solar?
  3. Are electronics protected by a power strip surge protector?
  4. Do employees know what should be turned off in a power outage, and what should be left on?
  5. Are desktop electronics connected to a functioning UPS device so they can be powered down in a controlled fashion?
  6. Do you have a back-up generator for essential equipment?
  7. Do you know what equipment is considered “essential” and are you confident the generator can both START and RUN that equipment? (It takes 3 to 5 times more power to start up a motor than to run it.)
  8. Have you trained on where to place the generator when it is needed?
  9. Do you have the appropriate electrical cords and plugs for your needs? How long do cables need to be?
  10. Do you have fuel for the generator? How long will it last, and what are the plans for getting more?

Get the rest of the questions and answers.

These ten questions are really just a start. Any business other than a home office needs more information in order to do a good job of managing a power outage. You can get a more detailed checklist, plus see some of the case histories offered by Agility Recovery, at their resource library: https://www.agilityrecovery.com/resource-library/

Power outages are on the horizon, it’s just a matter of when.

Good luck!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Value of Employees . . . Before and After a Disaster


If you’ve been following this blog for the past several weeks you know that we’re big on coordinating Personal Survival Plans with Business Emergency Planning.

The reasoning is simple . . .

Businesses depend on their Employees and Employees depend on their Employers.

But it’s pretty well known that most small businesses don’t have adequate Emergency Response Plans.  (Only around 67% have any plan at all.)

Small businesses never reopen after a disaster.

The future of your business?

Worse, statistics show that following a catastrophe, half of the businesses affected NEVER re-open their doors!

Why are businesses at such high risk?

  1. Owner attitude.

First is the attitude of some owners that they’d rather just cope with an emergency when it hits rather than make any plans to prevent or mitigate it. (We have to ask, if this is you or your boss, are you really a business person?)

  1. Emotional impact.

A second factor to business survival is that a major emergency has a dual emotional impact on employees.

Beyond their direct experience at the workplace, with damage and possible injuries, is the safety of their family members who may have been affected, too – but are spread out in the community somewhere.

Since communications are likely to be disrupted, employees will want to leave the workplace immediately to check on their loved ones. Once they disappear, the business has little chance of maintaining critical functions.

Improve the odds: integrate personal emergency planning with business survival planning.

Anything the business principals can do to facilitate employees’ family and neighborhood emergency planning will work to the benefit of all concerned.

One way to begin is by making sure that all employees have adequate Personal Family Survival Plans. This includes:

  • Personally-tailored survival kits at home
  • Kits at work and/or in their cars
  • Communication Plans for family members.

Take advantage of holiday timing.

Now might be a way to kick-start this by seizing on the holiday spirit.

Since we do not advocate buying pre-made, one-size-fits-all, survival kits — which typically include a lot of useless (or low quality) items – we strongly recommend that you consider getting them started with an empty backpack like this one from Amazon. It is big enough, but not too big, and has the advantage of opening from the top to give easy access to everything inside.  And if your company gift policy limits employee gifts to a maximum of $25, you’re in luck!  (Click on the image to get full details, price, etc.  Different colors have different prices.)

As a gift, the survival kit meets important criteria.

  1. It’s meaningful.

Every step that an employer can take to help employees prepare their own personal disaster plan will be meaningful for both.

  1. It’s personal.

Some people really like clothing with logos, or parties, but others don’t appreciate those gifts at all! Candy? Cheese? Wine? These all depend on people’s personal tastes.

The survival kit is a backpack waiting to be filled with items that the employee chooses!

How to add value to this gift.

The business can use the survival kit to kick-start a more in-depth discussion of preparedness. Setting up an emergency supplies fair at lunch or after work, for example, can improve the odds of employees actually building their kits.

The business can do even more by adding an item to go into the kit – for example, a flashlight or solar-powered or hand-crank radio. Here’s a link to our updated list of the top 10 survival kit items.

And an additional benefit. . .

If your business is one of the 37% of businesses without any business continuation plan at all, this whole campaign could be the impetus to get a company plan started!

If this idea makes sense, you can head directly to Amazon to take a look. Here’s the link: Fuel Top Loader Cargo Backpack (Black)

And if you want to talk over some ideas of how best to present the backpacks to your employees, or how to speak to your employer about providing them to the workforce — just give us a call.  We have a lot of good experience with “employee gifts” that we will be happy to share!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. I mean that about the call!





Simple Business Continuity Plan – Preparation


Who’s in charge?

The person put in charge of coming up with a business Disaster Recovery or Continuity Plan is often not an expert in the field. In fact, most often in a small business the job is simply “assigned” to someone in the company – someone in IT, or human relations, or facilities management. But “Business Continuation” means a whole lot more than simply saving data, or meeting OSHA requirements. It means keeping the whole organization functioning so you will all be employed six months or a year from now!

Unfortunately, statistics on going out of business as the result of a disaster are not reliable – but it appears that even in the best of cases, your business’ chance of survival after a disaster without a plan are only about 60%. (“Business Continuity Statistics: Where Myth Meets Facts” documents often-quoted reports.)

Typical first step: Hire an expert — but with what result?

Thick Business Continuity Plan

Comprehensive Business Continuity Plan — How useful?

The logical first step for the newly-assigned person is to hire a consultant, who IS a specialist. That individual or group submits its proposal, wins the contract, and then gets down to the research necessary to draft “The Plan.” Some weeks or even months later, “The Plan” is submitted.  It may be approved and accepted.

In our experience, this method handicaps the consultant, who faces a dual challenge.  He or she doesn’t know all the subleties of your business operations.  And he or she may be forced to bid on putting a plan together that covers a number of bases without having access to all the factors that will impact the veracity of the plan.  As a result, the needs analysis task is underestimated and the final plan misses some of the subtle but important factors that make the plan meaningful and credible.

If you go the route of seeking bids from consultants, you can help avoid this pitfall by doing some of the homework in advance.  That way when (and if) you bring an expert planner into the organization they start with enough facts to bid realistically on pulling the plan together and are more likely to produce a real working plan that will save both lives and property.

Nevertheless, the result of these challenges is that most outside-developed plans we have seen (and we have seen many of them) are:

Very thick and intimidating (to justify the fee?)

Complex (to cover all the bases or the rear of the consultant)

Filled with jargon and therefore unreadable by the very people the plan is meant to protect!

Result: Plan goes onto the shelf.

Isn’t there a better process? Of course, and particularly for small businesses. Our recommendation is as follows.

Alternative method: Create the plan in-house.

Creating the Plan in-house requires more time and more dedication from the person in charge than simply hiring an outside expert to put it together for you.  And it requires that employees at all levels be involved.

Over the years, we have found some good ways to encourage participation from within the organization — ideas which we’ll be sharing in the next Advisory, and also in a more complete form on our website.

If you’re in a hurry to learn more about the In-House Planning Method, here are links to the next two installments in this series:

And if you know you need to get started right now, find out more about our free 6-page report: How to Build A Simple Business Continuation Plan.