Hurricane season is here, and experts say we should expect to see a record number of large-impact storms start to brew now through November 30. Due to various climate factors, forecasters at NOAA’s National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center estimate an 85% chance of an above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic basin this year.

Is your business prepared should a hurricane hit? While you can’t predict when a natural disaster will occur, how long it will last, or the extent of the damage it will cause, you can make sure that you are prepared for the worst with a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)—a predefined set of protocols on how your organization responds in the event of a hurricane or other emergency.

Continue reading for a step-by-step guide to creating and refining a BCP to protect your business from risks, including financial loss, compliance violations, security threats, and operational issues.

What is a BCP?

A BCP is a predetermined set of procedures for how your business will respond to an emergency or natural disaster, such as a hurricane. It includes contingency plans for all aspects of your organization, including human resources, assets, technology, and business processes. Since disasters can result in injury, downtime, and loss of revenue and profits, preparing as thoroughly as possible is crucial. A strong BCP allows your business to function even when disaster strikes. As hurricanes are unpredictable, a business continuity plan is essential.

Steps to Create and Implement a BCP

Don’t procrastinate when creating and implementing a BCP; your business depends on it should a hurricane hit. According to The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), an estimated 75% of businesses without a BCP and hurricane preparedness plan fail within three years of a disaster. Don’t let your business be a statistic! Here are steps to take once you’re ready to create a BCP.

Conduct a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) analyzes and measures the risk of potential threats and how they would disrupt business operations and identifies which business processes are most critical to the company. Here are key steps to perform when conducting a BIA:

  • Identify critical business functions, including document access and preservation.
  • Assess the impact of disruptions (e.g., hurricane or other natural disaster) on these functions.
  • Determine what an acceptable downtime is for each function so expectations are clear.

Perform a Risk Assessment

Identify and evaluate potential risks and threats to understand how each could affect your company—for example, hurricanes and other natural disasters, cyber-attacks, supply chain disruptions, etc. Once risks have been identified, it’s time to analyze business vulnerabilities and the impact each risk would have on daily operations and processes.

It’s important to factor in geographical locations that pertain to every piece of your business and not just the main office, such as remote employees, branch offices, shipping products, and warehouse locations. Hurricanes can affect beyond the East Coast; remember Hurricane Kay, which brought fierce rain, fires, and wind to Southern California and Mexico in 2022? Plan for the worst; you never know when or where a hurricane might hit.

Develop Recovery Strategies

Planning for recovery after a hurricane or emergency is one of the most vital pieces to the BCP. How will important files be accessed? Are physical records stored onsite or offsite susceptible to damage?

Partnering with an offsite storage provider with secure facilities and vaults, advanced security and fire suppression technology, and digital conversion services can strengthen your recovery strategy. Additionally, by embracing digitization, you can ensure your staff can access important documents from anywhere, even if a hurricane hits.

Create a Plan Framework

A robust BCP framework should include detailed plans that identify, prevent, prepare, respond to, manage, and recover your business from any risk or emergency. The goal is to keep your business up and running regardless of the impact of a hurricane. The framework should include an emergency/immediate response plan for different disruptions and a communication plan to establish communication protocols for both internal and external stakeholders.

Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Assemble a crisis management team (CMT) and clearly define each team member’s roles, outlining responsibilities and expectations. Make sure all team members have up-to-date contact information and can be reached. Members of the CMT are responsible for planning for, managing during, and recovering after a hurricane or emergency, so it’s important to involve a staff member from each department and ensure members are collaborative.

Develop and Implement the Plan

Now it’s time to write your BCP! Compile all the information into a coherent document. Once finalized, distribute the plan and ensure all relevant employees can access it. Conduct training sessions to familiarize staff with the BCP and ensure they understand what to do should a hurricane hit. Additionally, training documentation should be saved to be easily accessed in case of disruption.

Maintaining and Updating the BCP

A BCP should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure all information is accurate. Policies and regulations can change year after year, as can internal operations and processes, so closely examining your BCP annually is crucial for its effectiveness. However, many triggers, such as organizational changes, security threats, new processes, or other business changes, would require your BCP to be updated throughout the year.

Now is the Time: Start Creating or Refining Your BCP

With an unprecedented hurricane season on the horizon, now is the time to ensure you are prepared with a thorough BCP. Here are some essential resources to guide you in creating your business continuity plan or assist your business during active disaster recovery:

In addition to a BCP, partnering with a records management vendor like Access can ensure that your active files are always protected while simultaneously planning for disaster recovery. Moving important documents to offsite storage and digitizing adds another layer of protection during hurricane season and beyond. Access offers PRISM Privacy+ Certified storage facilities and vaults with advanced security and fire suppression technology to ensure secure records storage. Get started on finding the right solution for your company today by contacting an Access representative.

Refine Your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Today!