Expect the unexpected

07 June, 2017

With winter storms on the horizon, you can never spend too much time or effort preparing for the unforeseen.

In February most of WA was declared a natural disaster zone due to unseasonal rain and devastating floods that impacted businesses from Karratha in the north to Esperance in the south.

Critical infrastructure was damaged, with several roads and bridges washed away and a damage bill for the table grape industry alone estimated between $10 and $15 million.

Every business—large or small—can experience a disruption that can prevent it from continuing normal business operations. This can happen at any time.

Although emergencies like earthquakes, floods and bushfires are front of mind when someone recalls a disaster, they’re not the only things that can cripple your operation.

Influenza outbreaks can have a disastrous impact on staff numbers and even computer viruses can shut down entire IT systems, so modern businesses must be prepared to tackle any disruptive events effectively.

Even organisations not directly impacted by a natural disaster or emergency can suffer significant disruption to their operations. This can result in financial hardship due to collateral effects such as continuity of supply chain, or retraction of a customer base or pool.

With typically long intervals between events, it’s easy to understand why businesses are complacent about preparing for emergencies, especially as crisis management is often unfunded and not part of the core business.

CCI is helping businesses be better prepared for disruptive events with the new Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Workbook produced with the support of the Office of Emergency Management under the All West Australians Reducing Emergencies (AWARE) grant program.

The workbook walks businesses through a step-by-step process for developing a business continuity plan and covers principles that can be applied to any disruptive event.

In a 2016 survey of its members, CCI found 61 per cent of respondents didn’t have any staff trained in critical incident management, while 66 per cent had not determined in how many days or weeks without a regular stream of income they would go out of business.

When asked why they had not created a business continuity plan, almost 39 per cent said it was “common sense”, 33 per cent said they were “too busy doing their normal work to create one” and 28 per cent said they would “rely on their insurance”.

Members also shared their own business disruption experiences, from power outages to fires, cyber-attacks and even an earthquake.

►Don’t have a business continuity plan? We’ve made it easy to safeguard your business – download your free copy of the Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Workbook now.