Wind of Change: Hurricane Dorian should make you rethink your business continuity plan


At peak intensity, Dorian was a powerful Category 5 hurricane that made landfall on Great Abaco Island north of the Bahamas on 1 September 2019, whereafter it made its way towards the coasts of Georgia and North and South Carolina. This has been the fourth year in a row for a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin starting with Matthew in 2016, Maria in 2017 and Michael in 2018. Of the bunch, Dorian was by far the strongest, recording winds of 185 mph and wind gusts surpassing 220 mph. North and South Carolina experienced approximately 278 000 power outages and North Carolina excessive rainfall. The combined economic losses of Dorian are estimated at $10 billion with some businesses never recovering from the damage and reopening their doors.

Is your business and your business continuity plan (BCP) ready when the next Dorian strikes? Here are 5 takeaways:

1. Build your team

2. Include your employees in your BCP

3. Backup your data

4. Leverage automation for added operation efficiency

5. Test, test, and test again

The first step for any company is to develop a comprehensive business continuity plan. Considering the above statistics, top of mind should be how a catastrophic event such as Dorian will affect your operations: Will your employees be able to continue working; is your data safe; will your supply chain experience interruptions and if so, for how long? Effective and timeous business continuity processes can reduce recovery costs, save revenue and even people’s lives.

1. Build your team 

A successful business continuity plan (BCP) is built from the top down. The buy-in and support of top management is, therefore, a priority. Then, assign a dedicated person to oversee the process and, finally, assemble a team comprising those individuals that represents a critical area in your business.

2. Include your employees in your BCP 

Although we have emphasized the importance of getting your workforce back online and your business operational, we must not lose sight of the fact that these calamitous events are often as disruptive and personal for employees. Disruptions could include school or daycare closing, shock in the event of the loss of a loved one, a home being destroyed, general uncertainty and so forth.  Your BCP should, therefore, take into account the emotional and physical impact on your employees too.

3. Backup your data 

All online and offline data should have a backup somewhere. Offsite data storage is essential to keep valuable files and information safe in the event of the main location being wiped off the map by a hurricane.

4. Leverage automation for added operation efficiency 

Designing and implementing a business continuity solution is often complicated by factors such as data growth, dispersed hybrid environments and OPEX requirements. Business process automation can aid in streamlining various IT failover operations within your overarching plan.

5. Test, test, and test again

Regular testing is essential to confirm that your business continuity choices are valid and effective. These tests can be simple exercises where staff talk about the steps required for each disaster scenario or complex where a real-life disruptive event is simulated. Testing your BCP is an excellent way of determining what works and what not for each type of scenario and so sharpen your response when an actual disruptive event occurs.

Ensuring that your business continuity plan is robust enough to withstand scenarios such as Hurricane Dorian gives you a competitive advantage and peace of mind. Plan4Continuity’s business continuity plans make provision for disruptive events including natural disasters and document the key business functions and resources you need to get operational as fast as possible.

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