Worst-case scenario

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While it’s impossible to plan for the aftermath of a disaster on the magnitude of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a critical event such as a natural disaster or corporate fire could put you out of business unless you have a plan that keeps you operational. Marc Bradshaw, president of Marcus Group Company, Ltd. in Santa Fe, is a business security consultant with expertise in crafting business disaster plans for companies. Bradshaw says planning for a worst-case scenario is a high priority post 9/11, and companies are realizing that the process of analyzing risks and establishing post critical event strategies make good business sense. Many businesses in the World Trade Center had fallback sites and back-up plans that helped them become operational immediately after the disaster.

Business continuity planning is not a subject that people want to think about, but the reality is the world is not the same place it was before Sept. 11. Transportation security experts caution that the trucking industry is vulnerable to foul play and companies are considering “what if?” scenarios previously unimaginable.

Bradshaw recommends you begin by formulating a business impact analysis. Determine potential risks to your business and list events such as fire, earthquake or hurricanes that might shut down your operation. Then determine the financial impacts of the “what if?” scenarios.

How do you reduce risks? If your company’s headquarters were shut down, could you manage your truck operations from another location? The trend is to choose a hot site where you could seamlessly transfer your operation to another location nearby. Remote locations or unmanned warehouses are typical solutions.

Safeguard your paper records in a fireproof safe and archive crucial documents offsite. Back up electronic data and arrange for storage in an offsite commercial storage company such as Iron Mountain. Have a method of employee notification and status. Smaller companies can call employees and larger ones can use company websites and automatic voice mail services. Many companies in the World Trade Center communicated with employees and customers through their websites.

Consider a media plan. A corporate fire or a terrorist attack using one of your trucks may require media response. Your plan should include who will speak to the media and identify a public relations firm you could hire should the need arise.

It makes good business sense to have a formal, business, continuity plan for any critical event from natural disasters to terrorism. While nothing is ever a sure thing, pre-planning can help you stay operational in the aftermath of adversity.

Resources: Marcus Group (www.marcus-group.com); Iron Mountain (www.ironmountain.com)