Response and Recovery: A Business and Economic Imperative

By Leann Hackman-Carty, CEO, Economic Developers Alberta

Every day when we turn on the news, we hear about a new disaster somewhere in the world affecting individuals, businesses, and communities.

Whether the disaster is natural, manmade, or technological, increasingly we are asking ourselves whether we are prepared. Unfortunately, all too often the answer is no.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I believe that even in the case of an impending disaster, we can avoid some of the unnecessary pain and suffering by replacing fear and anxiety with hope, relief, and opportunity.

The Scouts have it right. Their motto is very simple, “Be Prepared”.

I believe that the more tools, information, and resources individuals, businesses, and communities have access to, the more empowered they will be to take control of their own response and recovery efforts. It could mean the difference between saving our life, keeping our livelihood, and maintaining our quality of life.

Governments, emergency response organizations, and humanitarian relief agencies cannot do it alone. All of us need to protect our families, businesses, and communities. Disaster response really is a business and economic imperative.

Every day a business is closed, it is not making money. Chambers lose members, downtowns lose businesses, municipalities lose tax revenue, and people lose hope.

Preparation must be easy, or it won’t happen.

One practical approach I developed a couple years ago is called StandAPART©, where APART is an acronym that stands for each phase of the process.

  1. Assess and mitigate your risk.
  • Identify the type of risk your business could face. Is it natural, manmade or technological?
  • Develop strategies that will help mitigate risks before, during, and after a disruption. • Identify critical business functions in advance. What is the most time-sensitive? Which is the highest priority? How much downtime can you tolerate? What if you couldn’t access your facility inventory, employees, customers, records, equipment, suppliers? • What is and isn’t covered by your business insurance?
  1. Plan and practice your response.
  • Develop a plan when there is no impending crisis to ensure your operations will continue both during and after a crisis.
  • Test, refine, and update your plan on a regular basis.
  1. Activate your plan.
  • When and if it comes time to activate your plan, be confident your advance planning and practice efforts will help minimize potential impacts.
  • Know when to activate. Don’t wait too long.
  1. Recover successfully from the incident.
  • Full recovery can take days, months, or years.
  • Once you have resumed operations and recovered your critical business functions, you can take steps to fully restore your business. This may include returning to a damaged property, dealing with significant clean up, disposing of damaged inventory, restoring technology infrastructure, and filing insurance claims.
  • Remember, the more prepared you are, the faster your recovery will be. 5. Template your activity in an easy-to-use format
  • Finally, template your activity. This will help you think straight and make clear decisions during a chaotic time. Trust me, you don’t think normal during a crisis.
  • At a minimum, your plan should include current contacts, updated

procedures/priorities, roles/responsibilities, mock practices, next scheduled update.

The important thing to remember is that you need to be ready for “when” a disaster happens not “if”. As evidenced in both sports and war, ‘the best defense is a good offense’. Planning and preparation are your best offensive action that enables you to lead from a proactive, strategic position. Planning also allows your business to StandAPART© by:

  • Assessing and mitigating your risks
  • Planning and practicing your response
  • Activating your plan
  • Recovering successfully
  • Templating your activity

Taking the time now, to plan and prepare for a disaster is truly a business and economic imperative. Not only could it save your business, but it could potentially save your life as well.

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