Threat of Chantal Dissipates. Or Does It? Ever? (A Recipe for Letting Your Guard Down)

Starting as early as last weekend, forecasters were predicting the potential for a severe impact from what are now the remnants of tropical storm Chantal.  One ‘news’ source even predicted a “Katrina like path” – with all that implies – despite the fact that the vast majority of the more than 20 hurricane models kept the storm out in the Atlantic and, at most, a minor/medium threat to the East Coast.

As a business continuity professional and a lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast, storms like Chantal really bug me.  It’s not early in the season but so far – so far – the season hasn’t panned out to be the blockbuster that was predicted a few months ago.  Which means that, relevant to the fact that there have only been three named storms, it’s still psychologically early in a season which might turn brutal.  And that in turn is a brutal setup for the mindset of people in general and for preparedness professionals specifically  because we still have a long way to go before the end of the 2013 Atlantic tropical storm season.

You don’t have to go too far back to remember seasons that were late-bloomers but still had quite an impact on far too many victims.  1998 didn’t see a named cyclone until July 27th but that season produced Mitch, the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history with an estimate of more than 20,000 casualties.

Having experienced several earthquakes, too many floods to count and a number of severe tropical storms and hurricanes, I remember what it meant to be caught off guard.  Alicia in ’83 (which didn’t make landfall until the middle of August despite being the A-storm, i.e., the first one) started out as a very small cluster of thunderstorms off the coast of Louisiana and made landfall just three days later as a category 3 hurricane which did enough damage to Houston that the name Alicia was retired by the World Meteorological Organization.  (I made a lot of money with a chainsaw clearing downed limbs in the two weeks after the storm but I don’t remember it being worth the many nights spent trying to sleep without air conditioning when the lows were in 80s.)

Another example was the very early (first week of June) tropical storm Allison in 2001 which developed a crush on the upper Texas Gulf Coast and refused to leave.  After four days of meandering in more or less the same position with the center of the storm over land, it generated enough rainfall that the Houston area reached absolute saturation.  Up to that point, the never-ending rain had just been a nuisance but at some point overnight on Friday, June 8th, there simply nowhere left for the flood water to go. The fact that it didn’t make landfall and move on out of the area resulted in enough flooding damage that it remains the only tropical storm to have its name retired by the WMO and it caused more than $2 billion in damage just to the Texas Medical Center.  The fact that it was ‘just’ a tropical storm resulted in a classic example of millions of people and thousands of businesses getting caught off-guard.

The real damage that Chantal will cause will happen weeks or months from now when all anyone remembers about this hurricane season is that it was a dud.  Until it fires up and we get caught off-guard.

Allison-small

Allison flooding a section of U.S. 59 just southwest of downtown Houston. Photos: Fred Rogers

The Perishable Items in Your Disaster Response Kit: The Number One Thing You Should Know About Hotel Rooms In An Emergency Deployment

Take a minute to think of the things that you must consume by a certain date or, one way or another, they’ll go bad.  Expire.  Go away.  A few common examples come to mind.

  • Bananas
  • Milk
  • The batteries in your smoke detector

Now think about your BC/DR plan.  What could possible expire in that?

  • Ride-out supplies, particularly food
  • Fueling contracts
  • Employee contact data
  • Hotel rooms

What?  Hotel rooms?  Surely I mistyped, right?  A hotel room, once built, is there until the building is demolished.  That’s true, but the concept of a hotel room night – any room at any hotel on any given night – is perishable.

Think about it.  A hotel with 300 rooms has an opportunity every single night to sell those 300 rooms.  However, if the night comes and goes and some of those rooms go unsold, then the hotel’s opportunity to sell them passes as well.  The flip side of that is that during peak season or a major event like a disaster that causes a business disruption, those room nights are few and far between.

Kind of a different way to view hotels, isn’t it?  But that, my business continuity friends, is the premise for every interaction you have with hotels.  And if it’s not, it should be.  Every question, every guarantee you ask them to make, every contract you sign.  It’s all based on the concept of hotel room nights being a perishable good.

CH-Blog-YouTube-image-09July13

Add to that the fact that often times other people want to eat your bananas . . . er, get their hands on your hotel rooms, especially in an emergency or fail-over situation.  The term “unknown unknowns” was a buzz phrase a few years back but there’s a reason.  What do you not know about guaranteed hotel room nights that you might need in the event of a business disruption?

Don’t leave it to chance.  Or luck.  Or even to what you think your agreement with a hotel guarantees.  Those hotel room night unknowns?  Make it a point to know about them.  Or hire someone who does.

The Illogical Irony of BC Professionals Who Don’t Have A Bug-Out Bag of Their Own

With the start this week of the 2013 Atlantic tropical storm season – and indeed as tropical storm Andrea is currently punching a few holes into Florida – we’d already planned on posting about the need to update your home survival kit: three days’ worth of food and a gallon of water per day per person, current meds, flashlights with good batteries, etc.  But in light of the devastating outbreak of tornadoes in the U.S. across over the last few weeks, our attention turns once again to the “Bug-Out “or “Go” Bag – a pre-packed and immediately available bag of necessary items to be able to use if you have to evacuate NOW and don’t have any idea how long you’ll be gone – and how many BC professionals don’t maintain one.

We’ve heard a few excuses.  “Oh, where I live we don’t get [hurricanes, flooding, blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes],” and “We’ll get along fine if we have to evacuate because we can just pick stuff up along the way.”  Or, “We’re just going to hunker down.  Always have.  We’ll be fine.”  And the most confusing one of all, “I try not to think about that stuff because it upsets me too much.”

photo: American Red Cross

photo: American Red Cross

In short, here’s a list of atypical reasons to prepare a Go Bag regardless of why you don’t think you might ever need one (especially if you have children or an elderly relative you’re responsible for):

  • Fire – big or small, whether it’s your house or office or not
  • Utility issues such as downed power lines or natural gas leaks
  • Industrial accidents
  • Chemical spills
  • Traffic accidents
  • Active shooter or hostage situation
  • Train derailment
  • Sink hole – and aren’t there a creepy lot of those in the news these days?
  • Bombings or other explosions
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Structural failure
  • Viral outbreak
  • Infestation, and we speak of very recent experience with this one involving Africanized honey bees

Sure, the possibility of many of those happening to you is remote but there’s no reason not to prepare because you never really do know when you might need to leave and how long you’ll be gone.  Should we go on about the bees?  Approximately 5,000 killer bees that prompted a very quick and slightly prolonged relocation?

There are countless prep lists on the internet but here’s one we like that we put together a few years ago.  It’s a little on the comprehensive side but you can take a look and customize it for yourself.

  • Non-perishable food for 4 days – stuff that you will actually want to eat such as canned goods/meat/tuna, prepared meals that don’t need refrigeration, etc.
  • Laptop/iPad, smartphone and a memory stick with your family’s personal recovery plan
    • The weather app of your choice (we use a locally-pegged NOAA bookmark pinned to our desktop)
    • The map app of your choice
    • Compass app – free and often handy
  • 4 gallons of water per person – note that this is 32 pounds of water per person
  • Cash (we keep $100-200 on-hand at all times but $400 wouldn’t be too much)
  • An emergency handbook: first aid, safe camping, etc.
  • Car chargers for cell phones, iPad, etc.
  • Higher-quality first aid kit
  • At least one sharpened all-purpose knife; here’s our particular favorite
  • Two high-quality flashlights (at least one with lantern function) with extra batteries and a hand-charging flashlight
  • Chemical light sticks; use sparingly
  • Emergency tool for turning gas/water on & off
  • A hand-crankable and solar-powered portable radio
  • Moist towelettes, plastic bags/ties . . . and 2 rolls of toilet paper (better safe than sorry)
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask, emergency ponchos and duct tape
  • All prescription medications
  • Two blankets/pillows
  • At least one change of clothing
  • Plastics plates, cups and utensils
  • Fire extinguisher, which you should already have in your car full-time
  • Basic tool kit (wrench, pliers, hammer, screwdrivers, scissors)
  • Manual can opener
  • Extra pair of reading glasses & plastic safety glasses
  • Paper & pens
  • Spare house & car keys
  • A paper copy of all your vital documents – insurance, permits/licenses, will, etc.
  • Something good to read (think about it)

red-cross-donate-2These are the basics but there are also personal choices that are up to you: whether to include MREs, if fishing gear might come in handy, etc.  And climate and season are major factors, too.  Are parkas necessary . . . or extra tubes of sunblock?

Composing a Go Bag is a work of art that’s tailored to your life and, more importantly, to one day maybe helping save your life.  Most of the items are already somewhere in your house and putting the bag together can be an educational, interesting and even fun Saturday morning project.  And none of your reasons for not having one will be worth anything at all if it turns out you need it.

One more thought.  Consider becoming CERT certified.  The skills you learn are invaluable and the value you’ll bring to your community in the event of a disaster is immeasurable.

For different reasons, a few of us have experienced the unannounced need to hit the road immediately. In one case, the person involved had a quarter tank of gas, $12 in his pocket and little else.  In most other cases, that bag was in the back seat, ready to be used, depended on and truly enjoyed.  Take a guess which of us fared better?  And take a little bit of time to plan for having a much better, much safer experience for when the time comes.

Veteran Hotel Account Manager, Meeting Planner Miranda Hyvl Joins Continuity Housing

Continuity Housing is pleased to announce that Miranda Hyvl (pron. HEE-vuhl) recently joined our team as a Global Account Executive!  After graduation from the University of North Texas with a Hotel Sales Management degree, Miranda held several Operations and Sales Management positions in the hotel industry.  Throughout 15 years of hotel experience, most of her roles have been within the Hilton Hotels Organization and also with Del Lago Golf Resort in Houston, at the Wyndham Hotels National Sales Organization as an Account Manager, with the David Green Organization as a third-party Meeting Planner and as manager of a Sales Team as the Associate Director of Sales for the Hilton Bella Harbor Waterfront Resort.

Image

Miranda Hyvl
Continuity Housing

Through her various roles, Miranda has become extremely knowledgeable in the healthcare and medical device industries and has helped plan many training programs within those industries.  Miranda recently joined ConferenceDirect and will utilize her meeting planning skill set to work with her current clients in conjunction with her role with Continuity Housing.  Expertise in account development, strategic planning and execution of contracts are all talents that she brings to Continuity Housing.

One of Miranda’s greatest assets to the benefit of Continuity Housing’s clients is her experience working with and at various properties.  “I can see the hotel perspective because of my experience and I understand front office systems,” she says.  “I’m used to interacting with guests when they come in and they’re tired and I appreciate the guest angle and their point of view when they arrive.  One of my first responsibilities was with the Dallas Cowboys training camp, both with new recruits and with their top players.  During pre-season there were always cuts made to the new lineup and potential replacement players were brought in so there was a lot turnover and a lot of personalities and interesting requests.”  Sound familiar?  A bit like bringing in your second wave of responders to relieve your first string of critical personnel.

“My last large, ongoing project was with an $8 billion medical device company.  It’s a very large company and they brought in about 40 new trainees every other month.  I arranged all the details including food, their lab setup and equipment, shipment of specialty materials like bones and also ordering furniture to set up a lounge to make them comfortable.”  As to whether she’s ever worked with VIPs, Miranda relates that she’s provided services for “a lot of athletes and also VIPs who are big in their own industries, especially in the financial and medical industries.  I’m used to arranging for certain amenities to be flown in and coordinating particular room arrangements and furnishings because of personal preferences.”

Miranda’s professional accomplishments are underscored by how quickly she rose through the ranks of the Hilton system to become a member of the Gateway Hospitality Top Gun program, an elite group of managers who are sent to open new hotels.

This valuable experience is what makes Miranda such an asset to Continuity Housing’s clients.  “To open a hotel, you have to really know your stuff,” says Continuity Housing Principal, Michelle Lowther.  “Miranda’s key strength is the diversity of her background.  She’s able to talk hotels through any parts of our program that they may see as obstacles because she’s been there.  She knows.  And that means she’s that much more powerful at the negotiation table.”

ImageConsidering that most of her business is referral or repeat – she’s working on a program right now that she’s had for seven years – Miranda says that her favorite part of her career in hotel management is “the relationships and helping the client look good, which are always my main concerns.  Helping plan meetings, being onsite, improving my client’s worth.  All of those are things that make me know we’re doing a great job and proof of that is that I’ve become good friends with a lot of my clients.  In fact, one of them threw me a baby shower when I had my last baby!”

An avid runner who competes in any distance from 5Ks to half-marathons, Miranda, her husband Bruce and their five kids live in Heath about 20 miles east of Dallas.

Is Conflict Good for Better Business Continuity Planning? When Saying No Is A Good Thing

Both personally and professionally, we’ve all been the victim of miscommunication and while on a personal level it can lead to a difficult discussion about who forgot to pick up the kids from soccer, miscommunicating on a business level can result in much more serious consequences.  We’re all familiar with stories about doing business with the Japanese where the word “yes” can mean yes, maybe or even simply I understand . . . but not always yes.  Marginal fodder for sitcoms, falling victim to that particular misunderstanding has caused larger problems in the past.

Another example was recently illustrated in a New York Times article “The Anxiety of the Unanswered Email” wherein the writer examined the increasing prevalence of emailed requests or invitations which never get a response.  It turns out there are a lot of people who just don’t want to refuse a request – i.e., simply say no – because they don’t want to come off as being rude and instead choose to deal with the situation by not dealing with it at all.  The result?  At the very least confusion and often annoyance.  At most, a missed opportunity, a delayed start, a rushed deadline, a cost overrun . . . the list goes on.

Margaret Heffernan photo: mheffernan.com

Margaret Heffernan
photo: mheffernan.com

Sometimes not saying no can result in an even greater negative outcome.  In a recent edition of the NPR TED Radio Hour entitled “Making Mistakes,” former CEO and business analyst Margaret Heffernan discussed the critical necessity of disagreement in the form of exposing mistakes in order to prevent negative outcomes and even disasters.  Heffernan, whose mission it is to point out the value of lessons learned – almost to the point of glorifying the act of pointing out mistakes – shows us that not saying no, not disagreeing and sometimes not pushing back hard enough can have dire consequences to sales and even put lives in jeopardy.  So why are we afraid to say no?

Saying no equals conflict.  Finding mistakes and shining light on them can mean backlash for yourself and maybe also for your coworkers.  But not correcting

mistakes that are found can lead to inconceivable consequences whether the domino effect applies or not.  Review, question, investigate.  Especially the most crucial and costly elements of your business continuity plan.  And consider more efficient, economical and trustworthy alternatives.  You can hear the scolding of your parents from many years past but what they said is true: putting a little time and effort into a process now can save so very much time and money later.  And in business continuity, it could save lives.

Find a few minutes to listen to the TED segment with Dr. Heffernan.  In it, she describes the valiant fight of a dedicated researcher who found a huge mistake and then spent decades trying to get it fixed.  In so doing, she saved the lives of countless children.  Improvements to the process of your organization won’t be quite as dramatic, but they’re important nonetheless and maybe hearing her talk about it might give you a little more inspiration the next time you find something wrong.

Busy Hurricane Season Expected But There’s Still Time to Register for Next Week’s 24th Annual Hurricane Symposium in Houston

The start of the 2013 Atlantic tropical hurricane season is less than three weeks away and that means it’s time for the Annual Hurricane Symposium hosted by ImpactWeather.  There’s still time to register and this year they’re offering two different sets of presentations: one for offshore concerns on May 14th and one for onshore organizations on May 16th.  Continuity Housing is pleased to have once again been asked to participate in the informative, educational and entertaining onshore version next Thursday.

ImageFor full details, check out our posting from April 9th and there’s even more information and you can register here but do so as soon as you can.  Weather-wise it’s been an extremely unusual season in the U.S. and a number of national and global weather organizations, including ImpactWeather, agree that it’s going to be an unusually busy Atlantic tropical hurricane season.  Don’t let the fact that winter has hung around so long this year fool you into thinking that it’s going to be a quiet hurricane season.  Do your best to make sure you and your organization are as prepared as possible as soon as possible.

And we invite you as always to send questions about preparations for guaranteed housing for critical personnel in the event of a business disruption to michelle@continuityhousing.com.

Veteran Group Event Logistics Expert Joins Continuity Housing

Continuity Housing is delighted to announce that Casey Judd has joined our team as a Global Account Executive, handling both account management and onsite logistics responsibilities.  Casey began his career with the city of Logan, UT as the Special Events Manager organizing all major community events and sports.  After graduating from Utah State University with a B.S. in Parks and Recreation Management and a Minor in Management and Human Resources, he began working for Utah State University as a Conference/Event Planner. During his career at USU he organized conferences all across the country and worked with a very diverse group of clients and organizations.

ImageCasey joined ConferenceDirect in February 2011 following his stint at USU.  ConferenceDirect is an industry leader in strategic meetings management with over $500 million in annual hotel bookings.  As you know, Continuity Housing has a strategic alliance with ConferenceDirect and when we met Casey we knew he’d be a great addition to our team.

Casey has over 9 years of conference and event management experience.  He also has specialized expertise in the areas of conference communication technology and accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing, abstract management and academic based conferences.

As a Global Project Manager at ConferenceDirect, Casey is responsible for helping clients with strategic sourcing and contract negotiations.  He also provides conference management services including specialties such as room block audits, invoice reconciliation, destination management, onsite client transportation logistics, food and beverage management, audio visual coordination and negotiation, registration and all other onsite meeting logistics . . . pretty much anything that arises for a group of travelers whether it’s an exclusive board retreat or a convention for X number of attendees.   And of course when challenges arise at the destination, which they almost always do, Casey handles those situations with his signature calm and efficiency.  Sometimes to the point where his clients don’t even realize there was a challenge in the first place!

A good example of how onsite managing pays off for the client is evident in the many times Casey has negotiated customized menus with hotels by requiring bulk purchase of consumables as opposed to the more standard per-unit pricing.  Says Casey, “In one case a couple of years ago, we saved the client $20,000 over the span of a 2-day conference with about 700 attendees.”

Image

Casey Judd,
Continuity Housing

But potential savings during such an event go far beyond what’s normally overpaid for food and beverages.  “Also to drive higher savings, I’ll require competing bids for services the hotel usually already provides because in-house A/V, for instance, will always be more expensive.  I’ll go find four other companies and show the in-house group that I can get a better deal and get them to come down in pricing. I’ll typically bid most services that will be needed to ensure we’re getting the best quality service and the best deal for the client whether it’s A/V, trade show display companies, ASL interpreting and captioning services, etc.”

As you know, Continuity Housing is the one that connects the dots, putting our own spin on strategic meetings management expertise and delivering it to the business continuity community, saving our clients valuable time and money.

Casey has managed more than 50 group events throughout Utah as well as in Dallas, Atlanta, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Phoenix and New Orleans.

With such experience comes the occasional interesting situation and one such example played out while Casey was onsite as a client-side concierge in March of last year for a national conference of about 1,000 people.  “There was a group that was opposed to some of the exhibitors and sessions at the conference and they decided to show up and protest at the meeting. We had followed them via social media and knew that there would be a formal protest with signs at the main entry way of the hotel. We let them protest for a little bit of time and then had them escorted out which was all handled very well.

“But later that night we got a surprise when about 20 of them returned and tried to get past registration and get into the conference area.  We had to block the stairway with staff until the police got there but we also needed to avoid any interaction that might have generated beneficial press for them and/or negative press for the client.  The protestors weren’t violent, but were looking to cause a scene and catch our staff making a mistake and give them something they could use against us — they had several video cameras on us as this was happening. The goal is to always handle a unique situation in the most appropriate and quiet way that will have the least amount of impact on the clients and I feel we were able to do that in this instance.  It made for a good learning experience that helped me prepare for possible similar scenarios in the future.”

Exactly the discretion we expect our employees and contractors will utilize when put to the test.  He can think on his feet as well.

“As an onsite event manager,” he continues, “there’s usually an unexpected change onsite which requires you jump in and improvise.  Whether it’s an impromptu board meeting or a presenter changes their setup last minute or whatever it may be.  It’s fairly common and you deal with it.  You structure your staff and contracted service providers to fill the roles and services needed for things to run perfectly, but you’re also ready for those unexpected surprises onsite and ready to jump in and fill any needs no matter whose role it is – setting up AV, breaking down tables or directing traffic when the fire alarm goes off – you’re ready for whatever you have to do to make it happen. It’s challenging but extremely rewarding to manage the unexpected.  There are always changes onsite and that’s where we show our value when we can come up with Plan B really quickly.”

In summary he adds that, “The hard stuff isn’t quite as hard because we do it all the time.”

Casey is active in the hospitality industry association Meeting Professionals International and starting in May will be the Vice President of Membership for the Utah Chapter.  Casey and his wife Haley recently moved just across the border to Idaho to enjoy even more wide open spaces.  They have three boys ages 3, 6 and 8 and are enjoying Idaho outdoor living to the fullest by hiking and fishing in many of the 14 immediately located lakes and being outside in general.  Casey also volunteer coaches youth sports and is active in youth mentorship.

We look forward to working with Casey as he continues to help Continuity Housing clients across the U.S.!

Serious Hurricane Season Prep Live and in Person at the 24th Annual Hurricane Symposium

The start of the 2013 Atlantic tropical hurricane season – June 1st – is rushing this way and that means a return of the most comprehensive hurricane preparation for business is also on the calendar.  In its 24th year, the Annual Hurricane Symposium is hosted by ImpactWeather and this year they’re offering two different symposia: one for offshore concerns on May 14th and one for onshore organizations on May 16th.  Continuity Housing is pleased to have once again been asked to participate in this informative, educational and often entertaining gathering.

The offshore meeting will be a full morning with breakfast served at the Marriott Westchase in the Energy Corridor area of west Houston and the onshore gathering will be a day-long meeting with lunch at the Stafford Centre in Stafford, TX about 20 miles southwest of Houston.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYWlnr1uXOM?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]

Initially started as a small focus group and learning opportunity for clients of ImpactWeather, this annual meeting has grown to become the preeminent gathering of hurricane preparation and business continuity professionals from all over the country.

Image

Michelle Lowther

Making sure your critical personnel have guaranteed housing during a business disruption is first on the list of any resilient continuity plan, so among the many BC professionals presenting at the onshore symposium on May 16th, Continuity Housing principal Michelle Lowther will present on “Guaranteed Housing After A Disaster: Negotiating the Pitfalls So Your Critical Personnel Have Hotel Rooms.”  Michelle previously presented at the 22nd annual hurricane symposium in 2011 and the demand for information on the topic was such that she was invited by the organizers to return.

“We really look forward to this Symposium each year,” says Michelle, “because it provides a great venue for business continuity leaders from all kinds of industries to get together and share notes on how to best prepare for the season.  It’s amazing what you can learn from people who work in entirely different fields than your own and it’s those light bulb moments that have kept this event growing more and more each year.”

Attendees can register for either or both days and a discount is offered for those who attend both meetings.  For more information and to register, go to hurricaneseminar.com.  And we invite you as always to send questions about preparations for guaranteed housing for critical personnel in the event of a business disruption to michelle@continuityhousing.com.

Are Your Shrimp on a Treadmill or Are Your Business Continuity Meetings Actually Productive?

You’re picturing it, aren’t you?  A tiny little treadmill with a smiling shrimp enjoying his daily cardio.  The funny thing is we are not – repeat not – making this up.  With U.S. federal budget issues in the news again lately, a lot of light has been shed on interesting pork add-ons to certain bills and to some of the more interesting recent uses of tax money.  The term shrimp treadmills has evolved into code for questionable, perhaps not particularly useful ways that tax money is being distributed.

Now certainly, applied research is invaluable in the advancement of science, technology, business and our overall growth as a species.  And the study, which was part of a National Science Foundation grant, was actually a very small part of a larger cancer research program.  We’re not questioning the strategy, methodology or efficacy of the results.  But it does get your attention.

shrimp-treadmill-pullThey’re shrimp.  On a treadmill.

Just the language of it reminds us of so many business continuity meetings that are either delayed until the last minute or, when they finally occur, consist mostly of a group of semi-connected individuals from wholly different divisions within an organization who very briefly gather to run through last year’s checklist – a checklist that, due to the passing of time, changes within the organization itself and/or evolution in the productive strategy of the business continuity industry, is probably outdated and at the very least needs some tweaking.  Or even a fresh approach altogether.

Business continuity planning is such a new industry, indeed a wholly new approach, that many of us still find ourselves from time to time explaining to friends and family members what it is that we actually do for a living.  Except in a few select industries such as the petrochemical and offshore exploration trades, ‘business continuity’ in the past usually meant i) get caught by surprise by an unthinkable disaster, ii) respond ineffectively.  Because of the loss of untold billions of dollars and the impact on health and mortality by a series of events in the last few decades, business continuity preparation has understandably grown to become a robust, complex and productive part of doing business.

But it’s a living organism, all this preparation, and it requires dedicated nurturing on a constant basis.  In the past, backup or deployment housing for your critical personnel was probably relegated to a line on the checklist as something to do if and when a business interruption became imminent.  In other words, when it was probably too late because of competing demand by other companies.  Engaging in a pre-negotiated contract for guaranteed housing is an easy, effective and painless way to put some more meat on the bones of your plan.  And, pun intended, you’ll sleep better.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMO8Pyi3UpY]

Plan better now.  Seek new ideas, ask questions, realize that one of the best ways to make sure you and your organization are as prepared as possible is to look for answers anywhere but the usual places. Nurture your plan and build a more vigorous, reciprocating vessel that will result in the best possible payoff and clear evidence of your plan’s value when the time comes.

2013 Hurricane Season Has Already Started for Continuity Planners – Hurricane Sandy Lessons Experienced But Not Necessarily Learned

Image

Surge destruction after Sandy’s landfall in the Northeast U.S. Photo: USAF

For most people the start of the Atlantic hurricane season is just over two months away.  But if you’re a continuity planner, the season is already well underway.  For far too many people, the lessons of hurricane Sandy – last year’s late-season storm that killed hundreds and caused severe damage in the Caribbean and along the U.S. Mid Atlantic before its devastating landfall just north of Atlantic City – weren’t learned so much as they were endured, responded to as best was possible and then promptly forgotten (and by some, forgotten very much on purpose and as quickly as possible).

Why?  Because it wasn’t supposed to happen and therefore “probably won’t happen again.” 

Sandy was a shock for a number of reasons.  The fact that it was so late in the season, that landfall occurred so far north on the U.S. East Coast, the sheer intensity and the ‘surprise’ storm surge.  And yet it shouldn’t have been such a surprising event considering that it had happened before.  Rare?  Sure.  Impossible?  Obviously not.  (Here are some sobering before/after images.)

One of the greatest needs was for proper housing of critical business response staff.  Why?  9 out of 10 companies (90%) unable to resume business operations within 5 days of a disaster are out of business within a year.  Nearly 4 out of 5 (78%) of businesses faced with a catastrophe without a contingency plan are out of business within 2 years.*  Effective, coordinated response is required so that each business has the best possible chance of surviving the setback, regardless of the cause, and response teams need comfortable and guaranteed housing in order to work efficiently.

Too often proper housing is overlooked because of the incorrect assumption that there will be plenty of rooms somewhere and somehow.  Usually, there won’t be unless they’re planned for and the greatest irony is that it’s one of the simplest, easiest, quickest and low-risk elements to put in place.

Plan now for the next Sandy.  Regardless of the size of your organization – or its geographical location –  you can check that one off the list starting with a single phone call and a series of short follow-ups.

Plan now because the season is already here.

* Original source unknown; cited in innumerable reports by AT&T, the SBA, etc.