Monthly Archives: November 2013

Winning is Staying in Business

Along with all the challenges that businesses face, planning to be open after a disaster is one problem you can’t afford to ignore. Some estimates show that over thirty percent of businesses failed after Sandy (October, 2012). What caused them to fail? That is the sixty-four dollar question.

Starting a business continuity plan is no easy task. Most plans deal with saving “big data” with energy back ups (generators) and redundant servers. I contend you have to go much farther in your planning in order to stay open after a disaster or crisis. A holistic plan includes how to keep the business in operation by providing a way for employees to stay at work during the crisis. Not only are employees considered but their families. History is full of employees not coming to work as they were taking care of their own first. If your employees don’t come to work, then you are in danger of going out of business very quickly.

Think about this for a moment. Planning to take care of employees and their families during a crisis is not in very many plans if any at all. At first, thinking about housing, food and water quickly turns into a daunting task. Not done correct can easily lead to disaster. Let’s break this down into manageable pieces.

Housing can be tackled in several different ways. The primary way to provide temporary housing is to have a “suite” hotel nearby. During a crisis, the hotel is not going to have much outside business. Work out an agreement with the suite hotel so that suites can be paid for at a negotiated rate. Obviously, the suite hotel will need to have their own employees at the hotel and it to have its employees stay on site.

Another housing option, if you go by the Fortress concept, is having apartments and condominiums in the same complex. Can you imagine walking to work every day. A crisis doesn’t change anything except to make these local employees even more important.

Water should be problem number one! The old saying about you can’t live without water for more than three days is true. Between the suite hotel and the apartments and condominiums on site the water problem is minimized. If the complex is totally dependent on city water than you have a problem. A big problem. You will read a lot about how much water is needed per person per day. It is enough that storage and capture methods should be considered. All I will say about this amount is that it needs to include fresh drinking water along with cleaning (bodies and dishes) and sewer needs. You can find uses for “gray” water but some method of water purification needs to be part of the plan.

Providing “food” in the plan has to happen on several layers. The suite hotel should have a restaurant. It helps to have both a fast food and sit down dinner arrangement. Since this is part of the fortress concept, both food options should be open to the residents. If a crisis happens then these provide the food option for those working and living in the complex. To back up this option their needs to be a farmer’s market in the local area. For everything in the plan a contract of some kind needs to be in place and ready to implement at a moment’s notice.

There are several more pieces of the plan to be worked out so that the fortress plan will work. This needs to work during a crisis but it needs to work out and be profitable before the crisis hits. All continuity or crisis planning is based on risk analysis. Risk analysis takes into consideration the probability of the event. No matter when it might happen you need to have a working plan in place. Practicing or rehearsing the plan involves having company employee weekends. Have the employees that live off site bring their families on site for a night or weekend. Make it enjoyable for all but make sure that key pieces are tested and gaps or problems are analyzed and fixed.

I keep going referring back to the picture of Windsor Castle but without a doubt this picture says a thousand words on how to think about a fortress complex.

I am seeing more 55 plus living cooperatives being built. The latest one in the Kansas City area is Village Cooperative coming to Shawnee, Kansas. Similar to other sites and companies, they offer a good place to consider living. The key element that is missing is work; a place of employment. Living here still involves driving to work if you are not retired yet. The fortress concept involves walking to work and play from your residence. I can only hope that future sites will take a more holistic or fortress approach.

Quick tip for this article is carry an EDC or Every Day Carry kit. Depending on where you live and what your place of employment allows, this kit will be different. At a minimum you need to have a flashlight, an energy bar and some water. A way to make fire can be a psychological need and more.

A good place to start continues to be fema.gov.

What do you think? What challenges are you facing when trying to start a business continuity plan with this fortress concept?