I hope you could gain a few takeaways from our first post this week on National Emergency preparedness. The first post was to talk about things you can do to get ready ahead of time, like backups, networks and your plan. This next post is a bit tricky. Everything post-disaster is typically run very instinctually, so we will try to blend in some of the planning you have already done, 😉 riiiiight… with some pragmatism, you will need to ensure a triumphant return to business.
So, let’s play a game. The emergency has passed, and it’s starting to lose its impact on you, your customers and the ecosystem in which your business thrives. What do you do next? Human nature in us is to seek a home. Call home, go home, find the base or field or valley where we came from for safety, forming our core emotional connections. And I know you’re wondering what this has to do with business, but if you leap with me here, we can find an analogy between the livelihood of a company and the livelihood of a person. And it is often the same thing. Its connections. Its clients, its employees and its vendors. You need to start talking ASAP. So the first thing we recommend doing post-disaster, its take that hard copy list you have of all of your connections. And start reaching out. It can be as using something as simple as your email or phone.
However, you’re in a crunch, and frequently spending vital hours on the phone or typing emails or SMS’s is one of the most time-consuming activities you could be doing when there is so much else that needs to be done.
Thankfully we do have a solution that we recommend. It is from the company www.i-de-a.ca, and their Crew Builder, and Internal and External Broadcast solution. This software provides an easy-to-use method for connecting to many people at once over email, Voice or SMS. It allows customizable scripts to predefined lists of specific people, whether skill-based, profession-based or simply team-based. It will give you the speed you need to launch yourself into communications to a substantial amount of people with specific details you need them to know in a matter of seconds. The field is called demand response, and www.i-de-a.ca adds new features every month to allow for a robust emergency communications system.
Next, it is time to analyze the damage. Do you need to activate your backups? It should be the next thing you are thinking of; of course, while your communications are running in tandem 😉 , having a damage assessment list is a must as it will organize your next steps with a visual way to assign importance and tasks. Having a software solution for this can help not only speed up the communications with your team, vendors or clients on the steps and tracking, but it allows you the flexibility that often doesn’t come with a pen and paper.
But remember, we could have just lost all power for a few days, and nothing is charged, so the software won’t work. So let’s get into this topic a little deeper, with the concept of a “Toughbook.” Right now, the name is primarily taken over by Panasonic for their rough and tumble line of rugged laptops and tablets. But for this thought experiment, let’s reclassify the word and apply a high and low tech blend. This… is your version of the business bug-out bag. (tricked you, you can have one!)
This is your road bible. You’re taring off in your land speeder with Tom Hardy and the gang in hot pursuit! WHAT DO YOU DO!? Well, thankfully, you have your Pelican, Nacuwa or Thule case with you… The neat part about technology is that you don’t have to use it as advertised; you can modify it, change it and hack it to your liking. So in the actual situation where a laptop doesn’t work, its shock/water/crush/dustproof case still can.
This is where you should be storing all the hard or paper copies of your business continuity plan. Also, because there is room… Your checklists, your contacts lists, your GPS tracker, your backup battery, flashlight, and space-pens that work in zero gravity. Having not only all of your paperwork in a secure place, but it should also be in a secure holder because you never know what is going to happen. Having a mobile business plan that is protected from the elements so that you can have a clean workspace to keep track of business will be vital in keeping you focused on recovery. It sounds outlandish, I know, but floods happen every day… And nothing works when it is wet, not even paper…
Next… the pivot, you one you don’t know yet, but will have to make. But the technology pivot doesn’t necessarily mean updating and enhancing your business for the digital age. Rather the adoptive mentality that there could be a way post-disaster or emergency for you to change the scope of your business entirely, only using a few pieces of technology and doing what you are good at. Part of looking at IT problems is being really good at visualizing analogies, something we do here at Portal when solving customer problems. Technology does have a fairly linear path. Something can work, or it cannot. So being ready emotionally (we all love our businesses) to pivot slightly and take advantage of technology in an ever-changing and current global emergency state is something we all need to do. And practice as often as we can.
This is the part that is hard to prepare for. There is no book; there is only being ready. Ready to adopt a plan, a process and technology or way of thinking that supplants the old. That is what technology is; and that is what innovation is. That is what will take your business from the brink and push it into the future when enduring an emergency.
But now… for the second lastly, review your plan, look at what worked and what didn’t, remember over 90% of businesses that have a plan for an emergency make it through. And if you’re adept enough to handle one emergency, your business will, by all accounts, survive till the next one. So having an updated business continuity plan that keeps track of things that did or didn’t work is going to prepare you for a world of ever-increasing global changes.
And if all else fails… Look for me out in the badlands, ill be the one with the crazy hair and smile.