The start of hurricane season began on June 1 and, for most of us located in states along the Gulf of Mexico or Eastern seaboard, that means it is time to review business continuity plans. But, hurricanes are not the only reason to have a business continuity plan in place. Almost every business is susceptible to some form of natural disaster – whether it be floods, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes or something else. Is your business prepared? Most business leaders think they are until they realize they are not. Business continuity plans can be as detailed as you need, or want, them to be. Plans can be utilized for any business interruption, not just natural disasters, and plans are never truly “finished.” They should be reviewed annually and updated continually. At minimum, business plans should have two main elements: communication and data back-up.
The first -- communication -- addresses how businesses will communicate to staff and employees. Is everyone okay? Is the business open? If not, when will it open? What assistance is needed to re-open and how do we communicate to our customers? If you are lucky, you will mostly be at the mercy of the electric company getting power back to your business. If you are not lucky, employees that are able will want to come in to help get the business back to operational. Your customers may not be in an area that received damage, so you need to be able to communicate with them. For them, it is business as usual. Maybe you communicate on your website; maybe it is a mass communication. You must decide what is best for your business and include that in your plan. Remember, if you do not have power, you do not have access to employee or customer phone numbers and emails. So, have a communication plan prepared.
The second element to include is data back-up. While that may seem obvious, you would be surprised how often companies do not back-up their data regularly. And by data, I mean machine profiles, prepress files, design files, customer information, job history, receivable and payable information. Being able to restore your system will be critical to getting your company back open for business. Cloud-based back-up is ideal for many companies since it can be accessed from anywhere.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we implemented our business continuity plan and easily moved employees off-site that didn’t need to be on-site at the plants. They were already equipped with what they needed and had access to our systems because that was included in our plan. Now, that wasn’t part of the first version of the plan, but it certainly was in subsequent versions. The plan that we created has gone through more iterations than I can count and with each change the plan has gotten stronger. We knew what worked, and we found that things we thought would work maybe didn’t the way we had expected.
The best way to develop a plan is to receive input from your staff and employees about what they would need within their respective areas to become operational. You will not make the perfect plan right out of the gate. Even if you think of everything, you might not be able to implement it all simultaneously. Make sure you add a line item to your budget for business continuity expenses every year.
Whether it takes two years or ten years to get to a point you feel like you have everything covered, you will never regret having this type of plan in place. Hopefully you will never need to implement the plan, but it’s very reassuring to know you have one if you need it.
*Elaine recently spoke to fellow PRINTING United Alliance Women in Print committee member Denise Gustavson, Editorial Director of NAPCO Media, on this topic via the Impressions Xchange podcast, which can be accessed here.
About the Author
Elaine Scrima has been with GSP for over 20 years serving in various capacities as an integral part of GSP’s success and growth. She currently serves as the VP of Operations and is responsible for overseeing a staff of 350+ located across three production facilities in Clearwater, Florida; Provo, Utah; and Madison, Wisconsin. Elaine serves on the PRINTING United Alliance Board of Directors and the PRINTING United Alliance Women in Print Alliance advisory council, of which she is also past chairwoman.