Stepping Up In
the Face of Crisis:
How a Well-Prepared Team Can Act
with Confidence to Overcome Disaster
By JAY OXTON
You must be ready for anything at anytime to survive in today’s business environment. Your suc- cess depends on a long-range strategic plan and a strong,
focused team to implement that vision.
These same principles hold true for
business continuity, a fact we recently
experienced first-hand. Fire broke out on
the evening of Feb. 7 near our mail presort
services facility in Grand Prairie, Texas.
The blaze spread quickly, and soon the
entire 400,000 square-foot building was
engulfed in flames, damaging millions of
dollars of equipment and destroying the
facility where employees serve hundreds
of commercial clients.
In the face of this crisis, our teams both
on-site and at our corporate headquarters
reacted immediately, implementing our
formal business continuity plan. After first
ensuring the safety of all facility personnel, our business continuity team collaborated to combat the immediate disaster
and manage the recovery process – all the
way through to the successful re-opening
of a new facility four months later. They
stayed on point throughout the crisis and
coordinated their efforts in a seamless display of corporate unity. We could never
have achieved this rapid recovery without
the dedication of the team members and
their adherence to our business continuity plan.
I cannot stress enough the value of
teamwork in the face of such an unantici-
pated event. While each disaster situation
presents its own unique challenges, you
can prepare and train your team to respond
with confidence. While you cannot control
the circumstances, you can control how
you plan and respond.
Business Continuity Is More
Than a Buzzword
We live in an uncertain world, one in
which business continuity planning has
moved from a nicety to a necessity. In fact,
a 2011 Forrester study reports that almost
a quarter of companies are likely to declare
a disaster in a five-year time period. In the
face of such odds, a detailed business continuity plan can be a business lifesaver,
instilling disciplines that can help you stay
in business, minimize damage, and prevent loss.
In 2011 alone, we have witnessed disasters in the form of earthquakes, hurricanes,
tornadoes, tsunamis, fires, and floods.
Mother Nature continually reminds us that
we must be prepared to survive. There are
also man-made accidents that can disrupt
normal business functioning. These unpredictable events reinforce the need for a
well-written and well-rehearsed plan.
A business continuity plan often consid-
ers a potential event, its immediate after-
math, and the implications for recovery.
Then it considers an alternate event, and
yet another. A business must run as many
scenarios as imaginable to develop ade-
quate response tools. The planning process
requires a team approach with members
recruited from across the organization to
provide valuable perspective and insights.
Cross-functional teams should include
management, IT, operations, logistics,
real estate, legal, risk management, HR,
sales and marketing that work together to
design an integrated plan, which, in turn,
fosters accountability. This unanimity of
purpose will also create a sense of confi-
dence, enabling team members to provide
leadership during stressful and chaotic