Not long ago, Hurricane Katrina exposed shortcomings within our nations emergency recovery departments, such as FEMA, whose responsibility it is to respond effectively when lives are in the greatest need. Like the responsibility our government has of protecting lives, financial firms have a responsibility to protect the financial lives of their clients.
More recently, we were quite surprised and happy to find that only one of six client firms in Houston (that we contacted on Monday) had suffered flooding from this weekend’s Hurricane Harvey. Our flooded client let us know that he had evacuated in advance of the storm and had already begun contacting clients to let them know how he can be reached and that he was open, fully functional and available to them.
A sound Business Continuity Plan or “BCP” sets the foundation for your ability to respond effectively at a time when your clients’ needs are immediate and probably at their greatest. Here are a couple of key points that should help provide that foundation.
Mobility and redundant facilities and services – emergency areas should be evacuated in advance of known events or as soon as possible after a surprise event. If forced to relocate before or after an event, remote access is essential in maintaining functionality. Today’s mobile society and access to technology makes geographical restraints less of an issue.
Vendor relationships – reliance on vendor supplies and services should be categorized according to risk, and alternatives should be established. The loss of power and communication (telephone, internet, etc.) may impact your ability to contact vendors. Establishing alternative means of communication is essential.
Contact and communication – access to contact information is essential to business continuity. Normal means of communication may be disrupted so alternatives methods should be explored to determine how you can respond to lost functionality or communication.
Review and testing – reviewing your plan and annually stress testing it can mean all the difference in having an effective plan. Weaknesses should be identified and the plan revised as needed to overcome found shortcomings.
Implementation – once the plan has been created and tested, implementation can begin. Often the easiest step since no further action would be needed unless there is an event that activates the plan or until the next year’s plan review and testing.
If you need any assistance putting together a Business Continuity Plan, Red Oak is here to help you.