Flood, fire or flu: continuity in crisis

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As the last month has shown, unexpected events can have a serious impact on individuals, organizations and areas. Despite the range of events and disasters over the years many organizations are still underprepared.

Companies that didn’t have plans might be developing one now, in light of the severe flooding in Calgary and the recent flash floods in Toronto, Humber business continuity instructor Cheryl MacNeil said.

“It’s really unfortunate but it’s human nature – we don’t want to hear about it until it happens. It really is too late in the midst of an emergency to start planning. The horse is out of the barn and you’re getting further and further behind,” MacNeil said.

Communicating, training, awareness and testing are all key elements of business continuity program. It could be as simple as asking “What would you do if?”

“A business continuity plan is a key part of risk management. It keeps your employees productive and maintains essential business operations and customer satisfaction during any kind of interruption,” Michael Murphy, vice-president and country manager of Citrix Canada, said. “By planning in advance, businesses can take a comprehensive approach to management and testing to ensure they can handle both expected and unexpected business disruptions.”

According to IDC statistics from 2011 just 44% of large companies had a business continuity plan, with 20% saying at the time that they would launch a plan by the end of 2012. At best that leaves more than a third of large companies vulnerable in case of disaster, but even more small and medium companies are unprepared.

Small companies were much more likely to go bankrupt after a disaster, Royal Roads emergency management instructor Laurie Pearce said.

“People don’t get the importance of taking even basic steps to answer “What if?” They don’t know who to call to help clean up or what resources they can access,” Pearce said. “It’s not even just a big disaster that can do this. It could be theft or a fire or your business could be physically fine but you can’t get to it because roads are blocked off.”

On Page 2: The HR takeaways.


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