Planning for a possible Zombie Apocalypse may seem like a Halloween prank, and it may just be the freedom and fun you need in creating your business disaster recovery plan. In the past couple of years, we have witnessed plenty of natural disasters: from the wildfires in the West Coast, blizzards in the NE, and flooding in the SE – to across the world with earthquakes and hurricanes. Lives and structures have been lost; million of dollars of damages were incurred in the “human” infrastructure: buildings, roads, power supply, phone lines, internet connections – to name a few. Any one of these items can close (or destroy) any type of business: you’re not able to communicate with clients, with team members; you cannot provide services; you cannot access funds. Do you have a written plan that you have shared with your team for that what-if moment?
In the 25+ years I have worked with businesses, I don’t remember a single case where a business had actually crafted a disaster recovery plan, so I’m going to guess you don’t have one either. Perhaps it’s because thinking in real terms of an actual natural disaster may freeze your thought process (this is also the reason few people will pull together a will since the discussion of death is not a popular subject). So what if you spun the idea into a Hollywood inspired zombie apocalypse. Wouldn’t that free our creative planning mind from our fears around disasters to something more Hollywood make believe?
Buckle your creative seat belts as we dive head first into zombie mayhem and give you your initial script for this adventure. Make sure to include your team, because as we know: a lone person in the apocalypse is soon just a part of the zombie gang. While we aren’t able to control when these disasters, or the spread of the virus that creates zombies, are to happen, we do have the power to take action now to create a plan. For inspiration, put on the best zombie movie you can find, or better yet binge watch the Walking Dead. Your first assumption here is that you won’t be able to get back to your office, to your computer, to your local files. That is your starting point. So what do you do next? Here are a few things to consider as you draft your plan.
Create your Preparedness Plan
Start with defining the roles and responsibilities of your team and the goals:
- Safety of the team – The team can take on a different meaning when the apocalypse is knocking on your door. Consider your local and remote team members.
- Continued client services – Of course, if your clients have all been infected by the virus, you probably won’t need to provide any services. Just in case, know what service offerings and tools required for each client.
- Protect company assets – Building, equipment, etc. Heck, maybe your office will be a great shelter.
Business Impact Analysis
The goal is to predict the consequences that will occur and gather the info needed to develop your recovery plan. This may be hard as you are running for your life, so that’s why you’re creating the plan in the first place. Items to look at:
- What bare bones activity can be done:
- There was no office, phone, internet
- Do you have a Standard Operating Guide (SOP) written for all processes in your business so anyone can step in at any time?
- What tools do you need on hand to process items manually?
- This is one reason we love browser-based solutions, but there are a few tools that may only be on your desktop. Identify those so you can figure out how to work around them.
- Your computer is dead, where is your data and how can you access it?
- There is only one solution here – cloud-based backup solutions, maybe in multiple locations for everything! Desktop, laptop, phone, server, website, etc. If it has data that you need, can it be backed up to the cloud, and do you have what you need to restore it?
- Cash flow and access to cash
- Can you bill your clients; more importantly will they have the ability to pay you remotely by ACH or credit card?
- If the banks are closed, what is the plan then?
- Work space – office and equipment
- The office is destroyed or you just can’t reach it, what problems would this create?
- Can all the team’s members work remotely from their bunker? What would they need?
- Can you create a remote office in a safe zone that would have all the tools needed for you and your team?
Now that you know the consequences, let’s identify the resources needed, a plan of actionable steps, and team training. You will need enough food and water; transportation and security; plus your team will need to know the proper ways to kill a zombie. Here is a list of major plan topics to consider. For each topic document, pull from your impact analysis the needs; identify and create an inventory of the resources to solve the need that you have internally and will need externally; logistics – when and where will those resources be available.
- Resource Management – People, building, communication, safety systems, equipment, funding
- Emergency Resource Plan – Identify all possible scenarios (earthquake, ice storm, flooding, zombies)
- Life Safety (aka put on your own oxygen mask, first)
- Stabilize and minimize potential danger
- Communication Plan – Immediate need to be able to respond promptly, accurately, and confidently. Identify the audience, and know how to answer their question, “How does it affect me?”
- Team Members
- Vendors and Governmental Agencies
- Business Continuity Plan (aka A Succession Plan) – Let’s face it, an emergency can be a costly event and insurance isn’t going to cover it all. You may have thought there wasn’t Zombie Insurance, you would be wrong and there is even health insurance.
- Team or family members that can step in and manage the business
- Evaluate insurance coverage – talk with your agent and find the holes; they may even have more info on how their company is preparing for the apocalypse
- Information Technology Plan
- Remote Access
- Team Assistance Plan – just as you rely on your team for the business, this is your opportunity to give a little back.
- HR – get more info on what the team members family consists of, including pets; emergency contact; cell and home phones etc.
- Assistance programs – list of local professionals and agencies that can help your team and their family during times of crisis.
This plan doesn’t have to be beautifully crafted, there is no “perfect” way to do it. Involve your team to create and maintain it. Draft it. Share it. Review it regularly and adjust when any major changes happen in your business. Extra credit for testing out a few scenarios in your plan and creating an emergency kit for your business, your home, and your team. SBA quoted that the Institute for Business and Home Safety estimates 25% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to not be in that group.
Be prepared. Be safe. And have an awesome Hallows Eve!
The following websites inspired the post above and may give you a little extra support as you create your plan. A plan is only good when you put it in action, so trial test it and have your team be vigilant about regular updates and reviews.