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Our MissionWe identify a select number of significant public issues and stimulate action on those issues through communications programs that make a measurable difference in our society. Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter with the latest updates on our PSA campaigns and best practices from the social marketing field. Many plans are created expecting that power, cell phones, phone lines, Internet, and water will all be working, and roads will be open.  Plans are written expecting that everyone will show up for work, staff won’t have damage at home, won’t have to take care of families and pets, and won’t be stressed.
As you create your plan TAKE AWAY some of the items mentioned one at a time, and then in groups. While planning TAKE AWAY key personnel who may be traveling or not available because of the disaster. Prepare your office with survival supplies—water, food, personal hygiene supplies, flashlights, batteries, etc.
Plans are often written and placed on a shelf or distributed to managers with little or no testing.
A simple table-top test in a conference room using a simulated event scenario can be surprisingly effective in finding weaknesses with a plan. Depending on the size of your organization you may want to get someone trained, or hire a Certified Business Continuity Professional to facilitate your planning process. Plans are not owner’s manuals for your business, but guidance to your managers and staff on what tasks are to be completed, and in which order.

Annually (or whenever there is significant change to your business or infrastructure) you should conduct a Risk Assessment and review your response plans.
A plan sitting in an office is of no use if the office burns down or you can’t leave your house. Plans created by Semel Consulting have helped businesses survive the Joplin tornado, Superstorm Sandy, and many smaller incidents you never heard of. Talk through an event, and take away certain resources, with your response team and make changes to your plan. A plan is no good if it is only provided to a few top managers and leaves those who need to respond waiting for information. Even if it is one page saying “Recover our sales systems before our accounting systems” you will be giving key information to your staff.  Use electronic tools like smart phones, tablets, and laptops so your plan is quickly available to your employees. Educate your staff and encourage them to create or purchase survival kits for their homes, cars, and suitcases for events when they travel. You could relocate some personnel to your alternate site to see what it is like to work from that location. You need to designate which departments, and which processes and systems, will be recovered first.  Consolidate your contacts so you can quickly reach staff, customers, your insurance company, and vendors.
To supplement your plan you may need detailed documents with recovery steps and other critical information.

If you use an online service make sure you download your plan and distribute it locally.) Periodically test your critical employees’ access to your plans, and the version they have, so you know they will have the right information if an incident occurs. How will communicate to the rest of your staff on your recovery activities and when they should expect to return to work? However, in most cases, your subject matter experts (not always managers) will know what to do. Or, will you need to relocate to an alternate site with power and cell phone service while repairs are made?  What can you do now to prepare for relocation so you can do it quickly and efficiently? Assume that you will not be able to reach your key personnel and have to rely totally on their back-ups. You also need to have an alternate site that is far enough away so it will not be affected by the same event that disabled your main office.
Phones and phone lines?  Finally, you could do a complete fail-over exercise and stress your systems to see how they will stand up during a disaster.

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