Disaster Recovery © Martyn Carruthers
Planning for Crisis, Emergencies & Disaster Recovery
Contingency planning and emergency preparedness are not insurance, nor do they reflect unnecessary pessimism. Organizations that practice contingency and emergency planning are more likely to survive a crisis.
Solid emergency plans are good business sense. Following a disaster, the first organizations back on line are often well positioned to create new business.
This is particularly relevant for smaller organizations, who may risk more than larger organizations; yet may not invest the time, effort and resources for emergency preparedness. We provide coaching and training in most aspects of emergency planning. We start with:
- What plans are in place?
- Do you regularly test your plans?
- What could disrupt your people or resources?
- Which key resources does your company need to survive?
- Which key people does your organization need to function?
Fire Plans are legal requirements. An organization sited on low ground or below a dam may also have a Flood Plan. Some organizations have Tornado Plans or Hurricane Plans … and possibly Bomb Alert Plans or Hijacking Plans. Do you have emergency plans for Theft and Armed Robbery? Why not?
Other types of crisis include the loss of critical suppliers, bankruptcy or near-bankruptcy, or threats of hostile takeover. Equally important, and often ignored, are plans for workplace sickness and the mental health of staff following a crisis. Is psychiatric or professional psychological assistance needed – or is individual counseling adequate for helping your staff regain their balance?
In a crisis, success depends as much on people skills as on professional competence. Our systemic coaching provides guidance and objectivity needed for crisis environments. Poor people skills can threaten careers, and organizations. We can help you improve leadership and teamwork skills.
Emergency Planning often provides unexpected benefits. Creating and exercising contingency plans causes management to examine and re-evaluate the critical aspects of their organization; which may identify opportunities to become more efficient. We can assist this process!
Systemic Solutions for Crisis Management
1. Big Picture
We make a skeleton plan. We consider what can go wrong: fire, flood, tornado, disease, workplace violence, hurricane, bomb threats, the loss of key employees, burglary, computer crashes and more.
2. Critical Situations
We identify which situations are most relevant to your organization, and we develop contingency plans for those situations first, with less detailed plans for less likely events.
3. Team Members
We select a contingency planning team. We include people with different perspectives of the company’s vulnerabilities. Include people with detailed knowledge of the building, and of the computer network. We include department managers and a human resources person, if you have one.
4. Contact Staff
We list all staff names, and ways that people can communicate with each other. We include home phone numbers, pager numbers, non-work e-mail addresses, and mobile phone numbers.
5. Designate Authority
Designate a decision-maker and alternate. Those persons must know the steps to take in various crises, and how to reach staff and other essential contacts (police specialists, fire department, clients, customers, etc). We can inform staff who will give directions about what during times of chaos.
6. Chain of command
Consider a clear chain of command and authority. We consider military chain of command, or that of governmental succession; and how to apply that for your organization. If key people are missing, who will make decisions?
Do you work in an office with no alarm system? Might layoffs occur in the future? What if all telephones were disconnected? What if a key supplier can’t move shipments? What if all computers were “down”? How would each situation affect core activities, revenue streams, customer service and staff?
8. Alternative Workspace
Can employees work out of their homes? Will another company share their facilities until space at a new location is rented and equipped? We get answers now, and we are prepared.
9. Backup Information
Most people back up computer data. Where are your important papers and files – both print and electronic? Do you have recently backed data up – stored off site? We help you find your weaknesses.
10. Backup Knowledge
Are assets vested in a key people? Model the expertise and skills of those individuals and pass them on. We can start an expert modeling program to model and replicate expert performance.
11. Define Essential Resources
What can keep the organization running in a crisis? If part of an organization shuts down, where would revenue flow come from? We identify what people, equipment, space, supplies, or services are needed to keep your revenue flowing during a disruption?
12. Experienced Consultant
As you develop your contingency plan, we can streamline the plan and identify holes. We can write or edit emergency manuals, present emergency preparedness training and liaise with local authorities.
13. Educate Staff
Once your outline plan is in place, we write manuals and educate staff. We can arrange seminars and visits by emergency workers, police and fire officials, etc.
14. Exercise Contingencies
We simulate scenarios. Shut down systems and monitor how staff react. We may ask, for example, a director of a location to disconnect the computer network and not answer the telephone.
15. Systemic Coaching
Disaster preparedness and emergency response training is needed by all organizations, yet is especially important in small organizations, where each employee matters more to company survival.
Martyn Carruthers was a Royal Navy paramedic / technician who served on nuclear submarines during the Cold War. He was a health physics and safety officer at nuclear power stations, and later Radiation Protection Officer for the Canadian government. He founded Systemic Solutions, a complete system of counseling and training.