Communications before, during and following an emergency is bi-directional. Stakeholders or audiences will ask questions and request information. The business will answer questions and provide information. This flow of information should be managed through a communications hub.
Contact and Information Centers form the “hub” of the crisis communications plan. The centers receive requests for information from each audience and disseminate information to each audience. Employees from multiple departments may be assigned to communicate with a specific audience.
The “contact center” fields inquiries from customers, suppliers, the news media and others. The contact center should be properly equipped and staffed by personnel to answer requests for information. The staff working within the contact center should be provided with scripts and a “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) document to answer questions consistently and accurately.
Planning what to do in case of a disaster is an important part of being prepared. The IRS encourages taxpayers to safeguard their records. Some simple steps can help taxpayers and businesses protect financial and tax records.
Security in Electronic Recordkeeping
Many people receive bank statements and documents electronically. This method allows for easy backup to ensure secure record keeping. Files can be copied to a portable electronic storage device, such as a flash drive, or onto a CD or DVD.
In addition, you may scan your paper documents (W-2s, tax returns and other records) to create electronic files for safekeeping.
Be sure to store these backup files in a safe location, apart from your business, in case your normal backup systems are destroyed. Convenience to your home should not be your primary concern. Remember, a disaster that strikes your home may also affect other facilities nearby, making quick retrieval of your records difficult and even impossible.
When business is disrupted, it can cost money. Lost revenues plus extra expenses means reduced profits. Insurance does not cover all costs and cannot replace customers that defect to the competition. A business continuity plan to continue business is essential. Development of a business continuity plan includes four steps:
Conduct a business impact analysis to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes and the resources that support them.
How quickly your company is back in business following a disaster will depend on emergency planning done today. The regular occurrence of natural disasters, the occasional utility and technology outages, and the potential for terrorism demonstrate the importance of being prepared for many different types of emergencies. While recognizing that each situation is unique, your business can be better prepared if it plans carefully, puts emergency procedures in place, and practices for the kinds of emergencies it could face.
Small businesses interested in starting or expanding sales of their goods and services overseas have access to a new, free online tool that will gauge their readiness to export and help them develop an export business plan.
The Export Business Planner, developed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, offers a ready-made, customizable and easily accessible document that can be updated and referenced continuously as the business grows.