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What We Can Learn from Disasters Like Hurricane Harvey and Irma

Posted by Meghan Richter on Sep 12, 2017 11:00:00 AM
Meghan Richter

This year alone, there have been 75 major natural disasters impacting the U.S., 37 of which were declared major disasters by FEMA. What’s more is that most recent hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have already been noted as some of the worst storms in history.

Experts predict that the frequency, intensity and unpredictability of natural disasters will increase which means it is critical that we learn from these disasters by planning for the worst.

A business continuity best practice for every organization should be to evaluate and learn from past disasters, even if your operations have not been directly impacted. With September as National Preparedness Month, reminding us to plan ahead, we’re taking a look at some lessons any organization can learn from the most recent natural disasters:

1. Plan for the Worst 

The increased predictions around natural disasters means it’s not a matter of if, but when you’ll be impacted. Even if you’re physical location is not frequently in the direct path of storms, your vendors, suppliers or customers could be, meaning you need to consider how this could affect your business operations. To be truly prepared, your plans need to be comprehensive enough to account for worst-case scenarios.

2. Check and Test Your Plans

Testing is a key part of business continuity planning as during these exercises you’re likely to find what steps, processes or assets you may have missed protecting. Consider conducting a drill or test for natural disaster scenarios as this can only lead to stronger incident management during an actual crisis.

3. Conduct Internal Training 

In addition to testing your plans, frequent training should be conducted throughout your full organization. This ensures your business continuity team is following best practices and that your colleagues are aware of safety policies, plans and procedures.

4. Take Your Program to the Next Level 

There are always opportunities to improve and optimize your planning. Taking a look at learnings from natural disasters can help you identify how to improve your emergency notifications or utilize a business continuity software to streamline your incident management. Using tools like these can offer you an all-in-one, integrated platform to empower you and your crisis management teams to overcome potential obstacles. 

In addition to these lessons, be sure to individually evaluate learnings specific to your organization. Planning ahead for natural disasters can be the difference between going out of business and running a successful one. Let National Preparedness Month be a reminder for your organization to start BCM, test and optimizing your plans and share the value of business continuity for your organization.

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Topics: Business continuity, Disaster recovery planning

Meghan Richter

Written by Meghan Richter

Meghan is a Senior Content Strategist for Sungard AS. She’s spent her career telling the stories of how brands have made a difference, solved a problem or created better business outcomes. As part of the AssuranceCM team, she shares the story of how comprehensive business continuity programs can provide companies with the confidence to face any threat, from natural disasters to cyber attacks. When she’s not writing about business continuity best practices, you’ll find Meghan jogging, cooking up a new recipe or reading on a beach.