Your business is critical to your financial wellbeing, so you’ll want to take steps to protect it as much as you can against emergencies and disasters.
Emergency management planning will help you identify risks to your business, the critical areas of your business and how to best protect them. It also covers continuity and recovery planning to help your business prepare for and survive any emergency.
You should regularly review your emergency management and recovery plan to ensure it’s up to date, reflects your current business conditions and gives you the best foundation for action in the event of an emergency.
Start by downloading the free template which will guide you through the process.
- Use the template as a guide. Don’t attempt to complete the plan straight away. First, decide which sections are relevant for your business. Feel free to add or remove sections if you need to. Then work your way through the plan by filling in the empty boxes section by section.
- Use the [italicised text]. The italicised text in the template is there to help guide you by providing more questions you may like to answer when preparing your response. If a question doesn’t apply to your circumstances it can be ignored.
- Seek help. If you aren’t confident in completing the plan yourself, you can enlist the help of a professional (i.e. Business Enterprise Centre, business adviser or accountant) to look through your plan and provide you with advice.
- Review. Review. Review. Ask several impartial people to proofread your final plan.
An emergency and recovery plan can consist of these elements:
- Risk Management. List the potential risks to your business (in order of likelihood) and any mitigation/contingency strategies. What can you do to reduce the impact of, or eliminate, these risks?
- Critical business area analysis. Identify all the critical areas of your business (e.g., product refrigeration process, seasonal demand, computer access and connections, knowledgeable staff) and any protection strategies that can reduce or remove negative impacts of their loss.
- Scenario planning. When you have completed your critical business areas and ranked them, complete a more detailed scenario based on each of your top three critical business areas.
- Insurance. List the insurance policies you currently hold to cover your business risks and consider other insurances.
- Property and infrastructure. List what you have done, or need to do, to make your property and infrastructure less vulnerable to damage. Is your property secured with alarms, security personnel or video surveillance from unlawful entry? Do you have fire retardant or flood resistant building materials? Do you have your gutters checked regularly to minimise fire risk?
- Temporary office accommodation. Identify temporary office accommodation you can quickly access in an emergency. Consider attaching a map of your accommodation to the back of your plan.
- Business continuity strategies. Consider other strategies to help you maintain ‘business as usual’ practices. Have you considered a virtual office service, e-commerce website or online auction or e-marketplace shopfront?
- Key personnel training. List your current staff and any training they may need.
- Skill retention strategies. How can you ensure the skills of staff are maintained and updated? Do you have an appropriate allocation of responsibilities? How are responsibilities documented and communicated to staff? What internal processes will you implement to regularly check that skills are appropriate and maintained? Do you offer professional development opportunities?
- Data security and backup strategy. Detail your protection and backup procedures. How have you protected your network and your critical data (e.g., virus protection, secure networks and firewalls, secure passwords and data backup procedures)?
- Environmental resilience. Have you considered how your business might be impacted by changes to environmental conditions? Environmental factors include weather, climate, and climate change, which all may affect how companies operate and the products they offer.
- Emergency contacts. List your local emergency services numbers and any additional contacts you will need to phone in an emergency (e.g. employees’ next of kin).
- Emergency procedures. List your emergency/evacuation procedures. It may be useful to attach a copy of your detailed emergency procedures and floor plan with the location of emergency exits, emergency kit and safety equipment clearly marked. Your emergency procedures should include a map of evacuation locations for all emergencies.
- Evacuation drill schedule. Prepare a schedule for emergency evacuation drills and ensure you run them. Include staff in discussions about how to improve your evacuation procedure.
- Emergency kit. Decide and clearly identify where your emergency kit is located. List the contents and when each item was last checked.
- Emergency team. Choose your emergency team and ensure its members understand their roles and responsibilities.
- Business impact assessment. After an event, be ready to itemise all damages to your business per severity and the action needed to recover. Attach your impact assessment to your emergency plan.
- Recovery contacts. Include all the organisations or people needed to help your business recover. See also Emergency contacts above.
- Insurance claims. What insurance policies have you claimed? After an event, record and keep on file any discussions you’ve had with an insurer about your claim.
- Market assessment. After an event, and based on your assessment of the damage to your business and/or surrounding area, list any areas of your market that have changed. Alternatively, attach a complete market assessment to the back of your plan.
- Marketing strategy. Update your marketing strategy after an emergency. If your business will reopen after event, how will you communicate the message? What channels will you use to target customers? How will this strategy depend on changes in the market? You may consider a targeted marketing effort (such as a social media campaign) to communicate changes to your operations when the event occurs and when you reopen.
- Current creditors. List all current creditors and any arrangements you have made during the recovery period.
- Current debtors. List all current debtors you have contacted and their agreed payment amount and date.
- Government funding. After a severe emergency event, there may be government support offered to affected businesses. This support varies depending on your location, business type, industry, and the severity and type of event. If support is available, list all government funding you have applied for, including the program name (e.g. flood relief package), contact details, application dates and amounts.
- Expected cash flow. Consider your expected cash flow during and after an event.
- Supporting documentation. Attach any supporting documentation you may need to your emergency management and recovery plan. This may include copies of your floor plan, detailed emergency procedures, employee names and contact details, impact and market assessments, and financial documents.
It’s important to seek help early from the range of advice and support services available to you.
- Contact the Office of the Small Business Commissioner to discuss any issues relating to contracts, especially before you sign a commercial contract
- Contact the Office of the Industry Advocate to discuss major government projects and tenders
- Find your nearest small business advisor in business advice services.