Families are advised to prepare for emergencies, natural disasters and major hazards, and as a small business owner, you should do the same for your business to ensure continuity of operations. May 5-11, 2019, was National Small Business Week, a time to recognize and award outstanding small business owners. During this time, consider whether your business is prepared should any of these catastrophic incidents happen:
- Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires
- Health hazards, such as disease outbreaks or pandemic flu
- Man-made emergencies, such as accidents and acts of terrorism
- Technology breakdowns, such as power failures and equipment malfunctions
Planning for Continuity of OperationsFederal departments and agencies are required to develop continuity of operations (COOP) programs, and what applies to them can also be used for a small business. While you can’t predict the outcome of a catastrophic incident, having an established COOP program ready to activate can help minimize disruptions to your business. COOP programs are designed to keep essential functions operational during sudden and devastating emergencies, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, hazardous material spills, etc. These programs provide direction in responding to emergencies, which enables you to reduce disruptions and keep your business operating during unstable conditions. Being prepared to continue operations allows organizations to:
- Reduce loss of life and minimize damage to and loss of critical processes and information.
- Provide for a succession of leadership to perform necessary duties when regular leadership is suspended.
- Reduce or prevent disruptions to operations.
- Protect facilities, infrastructure, equipment, records and other necessary assets.
- Recover from an emergency in a timely and orderly manner, and resume full services.
COOP ProgramsCOOP programs are structured and formed according to continuity plans, which are influenced by and based on an organization’s susceptibility to risk and ability to fund continuity efforts. There are four aspects of a continuity foundation:
- Plans and procedures: Instructions to help guide leadership and personnel during a crisis.
- Risk management: Assessment of the workplace and its practices to identify, prepare for and minimize the impact of hazards.
- Budgeting and resource allocation: Management of funds and resources to adequately support continuity activities.
- Operational phases: Staged approach to help guide implementation of the continuity plan during the various phases of response to an incident.