Emergency Preparedness Planning 5: Disaster Mitigation

In the previous articles in this series, we discussed risk assessment, the importance of establishing what risks and threats your business faces and how some of them can be prevented or avoided. However, some risks are either too expensive, or simply impossible to prevent. In such circumstances, disaster mitigation measures that can reduce the effects and ensure that business continuity takes precedence are crucial.

Disaster mitigation or business continuity planning is the process for analyzing and preparing for those risks which cannot be avoided. You cannot do anything to prevent a key staff member from falling ill, you cannot (except with expensive generators and fuel) prevent a power outage from affecting your business.

However, with proper contingency plans which focus on business continuity, you can ensure that key business activities continue. Unlike avoidance measures, mitigation does not require massive investment, but is much more procedures-based.

Issues that you should consider and plan for include:

Staff training, mentoring and shadowing, so that others are available to step in should a key member of staff fall ill or otherwise be indisposed. As best practice for succession planning, these may already be well-understood and practiced within your organization, but if not, they are certainly one of the simplest, quickest and easiest of risk prevention measures that can be introduced and immediately start showing benefits (not just in an emergency).

Flexible working techniques, such that staff can be on call when needed and are capable of working from remote locations (or home) to maintain business continuity when their normal place of work is unusable or unreachable. Such policies only work in certain industries or may only work for short periods, but in an emergency situation, they may well prove essential to maintaining contacts with customers and ensuring that recovery is as quick as possible.

Having alternate or reserve suppliers, contractors and shipping methods can help to maintain business continuity if the risk is associated with any external company that you rely on. Remember throughout the risk assessment process that you do not operate in a vacuum, even an entirely internet based organization requires power, communications and postal services. You need to consider how disruption to these would affect your business and plan accordingly.

Communications are crucial in avoiding risks. There is no point having measures in place unless everyone is told when those measures are in effect. If you want to use your staff, working from home, to maintain contact with your suppliers, customers or others, they need to receive clear and regular instruction and be able to provide feedback. A mass notification system that allows two-way communication will be essential.

To read the first article in this series, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning: Identifying the Key Stages of your Disaster Recovery Plan. To read the 2nd article in this series, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 2: Risk Assessment. To read the 3rd article in this series, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 3: Continuity Planning. To read the 4th article, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 4: Disaster prevention and avoidance. To read the 6th, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 6: incident response. To read the 7th and final article, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 7: Recovery.

We recommend that you register for a free online demonstration of Regroup’s powerful, secure and easy-to-use mass notification and emergency messaging system or for more information, case studies and white papers about how Regroup helps in meeting your day-to-day and emergency communications needs, talk to a Regroup Communications Consultant today at 775-476-8710.