Are you ready for the 2020 Hurricane Season?

Steve Bassine

As a potentially active hurricane season collides with the pandemic, companies need a business continuity plan in place.

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We’ve already had three tropical storms before the hurricane season’s official start date of June 1 — and quite understandably, everyone seems to want to know what lies ahead for the season. NOAA expects higher activity than normal with 13-19 named storms, of which 6-10 could turn into hurricanes and 3-6 of those hurricanes could be major ones.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, with the full economic and social impacts still to be determined. While it’s not clear how the pandemic will evolve in the coming months, we do know hurricane season is here now and its effects will only compound the impacts from the pandemic.

Besides the current pandemic, hurricanes represent one of the larger risks that organizations face for business disruption, so now is a good time to put a business continuity plan in place. The primary objective of a business continuity plan is to limit disruption of your critical processes and operations and thereby protect the business from significant losses or worse. Your plan must contain detailed processes and procedures your company will take after a business disruption to get your operations back up and running again as quickly as possible.

Plan for Hurricane Season during COVID-19

Here are the five key ideas to keep in mind regarding business continuity planning:

1. Start with Leadership. Successful business continuity programs require commitment and support from corporate leadership. Also, you must have a strong leader for the planning process and assemble a team from each major department.

2. Identify Critical Processes and Develop Recovery Strategies. You need to develop a business impact analysis (BIA) that identifies the most critical processes that need to be recovered first. Then develop a plan to recover each of those processes within the required time limit.

3. Develop the Plan. Developing the BIA and recovery strategies can be time consuming and contain a lot of detail. It’s very important to ensure that these details are well documented in the plan and available in a well-organized and easy to use format. This ensures that the plan is at the ready when you need it and provides a baseline for future updates and reviews.

4. Review and Test the Plan. Periodic review of the plan is essential. No business stays the same – processes, technology, and people change, and your plan needs to change with them. Also, the plan must be tested to ensure that recovery strategies work as planned and that your team understands the plan and their roles. These tests may include a simple tabletop exercise in which the team discusses the scenario and how they would respond. Remember, successful business continuity planning is a cycle that requires continual reviews, updates and adjustments. Also, it’s always important to conduct a post-incident review after a hurricane or other event to capture lessons learned and plan improvements needed.

5. Leverage Technology. Many organizations maintain paper-based business continuity plans that sit on a shelf and quickly become outdated. Maintaining these plans with word processing software is time-consuming, inefficient, and difficult to maintain to keep current. By leveraging a web-based application to manage your plans, accuracy is improved, plan maintenance time is reduced, and the latest version of your plans are much more accessible to your stakeholders.

Contact us for more information on our SMARTPLAN application and to assist with your company’s preparedness program during the hurricane season.

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