Hurricanes and other disasters can be devastating to business operations. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) forty percent of businesses do not open after a disaster and another twenty-five percent fail within one year. Pretty alarming statistics.
In fleet operations a disaster such as a hurricane can bring your fleet operations to a grinding halt, destroy property and ruin your reputation. If you think insurance will completely cover the lost revenue and expenses needed to repair the destruction caused by Mother Nature’s handiwork—think again.
You Can’t Prevent Disaster. But You Can Plan for it.
Protecting and preventing your fleet operations from joining the “40/25” club requires proactive planning. A business continuity plan is absolutely essential to planning, as it keeps your operations running in the event of a disaster.
A business continuity plan takes a disaster recovery plan one step further. It outlines how your operations will continue after disaster has occurred and focuses on both short and long term aspects that may affect your operations’ recovery.
So how do you develop a comprehensive and effective business continuity plan? Following is an overview of four key steps to help you get started.
Laying the Foundation with a Business Impact Analysis
A business impact analysis (BIA) predicts the consequences of disruptions to your operations and gathers information needed to recover from those disruptions. It also identifies scenarios and accesses risks that could cause disruptions, including injuries to your employees or damage to your fleet and property.
The basis of a BIA is a questionnaire that surveys managers and other personnel and asks them to identify the impact a business disruption would have on their areas. Key to this process is looking for any weakness that may make an asset more vulnerable and potentially cause your customers to lose confidence in your business.
After the questionnaires are completed, the crisis/disaster team or management reviews them and then conducts follow-up interviews to validate and update information.
Closing the Gap by Identifying and Implementing Recovery Strategies
Based on the information from the BIA questionnaires, the next step is identifying your resource requirements and conducting gap analysis. The analysis will determine gaps between your recovery requirements and your current capabilities.
For example, if a couple of vehicles in your fleet are damaged by a hurricane and rendered inoperable, but other vehicles can make up the lost production, there is no resource gap. However, if your entire fleet is grounded, you may need to make up lost production by other means.
Recovery strategies should include all of your resources—employees, facilities, equipment, materials and IT—and may involve contracting with third parties or entering into partnerships or reciprocal arrangements.
Using Information to Develop and Tailor Your Plan
Taking the information culled from your BIA and recovery strategies and using it to develop the framework of your plan is up next. This will include writing the business continuity and IT disaster procedures for your operations, plus developing relocation plans if your main facility or IT assets, networks and applications are lost.
When writing the business continuity procedures, it is important to include plans for increasing levels of severity of impact from a disruption. Take flooding for example. Your plan should address procedures for both a sand bagging fix and also for a more severe situation—where flooding forces you to move critical parts of your operations to another area.
The framework of your plan should also designate recovery teams with members selected from trained and experienced personnel who are knowledgeable about their responsibilities. Duties and roles of each team member need to be clearly defined and, just to be on the safe side, alternate team members should be designated.
Putting Your Plan to the Test
The last step is testing your plan to determine its effectiveness. Role playing and tabletop exercises are a good way to train your team and employees on what to do if disaster strikes.
Documenting the results and reviewing your plan quarterly with your crisis/disaster team is a good idea, as is keeping an eye on any areas that need to be strengthened. With your crisis/disaster team and with management’s approval, incorporate necessary changes to update your plan.
Testing and “exercising” your plan is the only way to determine if it is up to the task. Finding out otherwise during a disaster is nearly as bad as not having a plan at all.
Are you ready?
Investigate how PS Energy can help get your fleet back on the road in a disaster with the emergency fueling plan.
For business continuity plan worksheets, templates and more detailed information, visit http://www.ready.gov/business/implementation/continuity