This guest blog was contributed by Mitchell Perry, VP Compliance and Security at Access
Amid increasing rates of wildfires, hurricanes, and floods, businesses face an urgent need to recognize and evaluate potential risks associated with natural disasters. As organizations grapple with such extreme weather events, they must consider the ramifications of relying on unprotected paper documents as the primary source of data storage. The duration and intensity of these phenomena can range from minutes to months, making it sometimes impossible to access improperly stored physical documents that are at risk or already destroyed. Organizations must have a proactive plan in place to ensure sensitive information is protected in the event of severe weather or other interruptions which may impact business operations.
How? Enter Business Continuity Planning (BCP).
Preparatory activities such as developing risk assessments and performing a business impact analysis allow businesses to identify critical business functions and explore early recovery strategies commonly contained in BCPs. Implementing an enterprise BCP is essential to ensure businesses can quickly respond to operational disruptions due to disasters in a manner that minimizes loss. With BCP, businesses create a comprehensive strategy to ensure essential functions can continue during and after an extreme event, such as a wildfire, hurricane, flood, or other event that can cause damage. This process involves assessing a wide range of potential risks, developing mitigating strategies, and exercising contingency plans with key stakeholders responsible for response and recovery strategies.
Planning and communication are critical aspects of risk management for businesses to enhance their resilience and safeguard against potential financial and operational losses. Knowing this, there are several strategies businesses can use to prepare for natural and human-made disasters.
Preparing Ahead of a Disastrous Event Taking precautionary measures to safeguard your teams and sensitive information involves implementing a strategic BCP. Consider this plan as your guiding principle in the face of any potential disaster – it serves as a crucial resource outlining decision-making processes at local, regional, and corporate levels. This blueprint focuses on the continuous protection of teams, operations, and information in the case of extreme weather events.
One way to prioritize proactive preparedness for emergencies is through regular and meticulous reviews of these plans. This involves regularly assessing fire and smoke detection systems, running fire suppression and prevention system testing, and complete facility assessments, such as roof inspections, grounds maintenance, and vehicle preparation. These tests also ensure the backup and failover systems are working properly, and a communication escalation plan is in place.
Another key part of the plan should be to designate which employees/vendors are responsible for each specific action in the plan and by what timeline so there is no question during a live event. Organizations should prioritize updating employees’ home contact information regularly to ensure ongoing safety and enable effective communication as much as is possible. Precautionary drills to walk through the plan ahead of a disaster will also ensure a more streamlined process.
Developing an Information Governance Policy By its simplest definition, information governance is the management of a company’s information. It refers to a set of policies, processes, and controls implemented by an organization to manage its information assets in a structured and efficient manner.
An effective information governance program will ensure that all proprietary business information is accessible and secure. The first step to building an information governance program involves identifying what information you have, where it’s stored, how it’s stored, how to access it, and who has access to it. In the case of an extreme weather event, identifying this information ahead of time helps organizations mitigate risk, maintain data integrity, comply with relevant laws and regulations, and extract maximum value from their information assets.
Staying Up to Date with Extreme Weather Natural disasters happen quickly, and staying informed is key as we face more frequent natural disasters. It’s also important to consistently anticipate and prepare for potential disruptions ahead of time. In the event of extreme weather, organization leaders can take proactive measures to ensure the safety of employees, secure important data and assets, and implement relevant contingency plans.
Minimizing Loss Amid Natural Disasters By instituting a proactive and strategic approach to planning, businesses can ensure compliance, maximize the value of information assets, and maintain data integrity through a natural disaster.
In a situation where resilience is paramount, the combination of business continuity planning, information governance, and staying informed on the status of natural disasters equips businesses to survive through unforeseen weather events.
For additional resources and BCP tips, visit: https://www.accesscorp.com/business-continuity-resources.