As you prepare for 2022, it is also time to audit your business emergency preparedness plan. Why is a business emergency plan essential? I spoke to MainSpring vCIO Cleon Lenhardt for perspective. His response?

“Imagine the cost impact to your business if it is shut down for just three hours…your employees sitting at their desks unable to work, your point-of-sale system stalled, your assembly line quiet.” Cleon Lenhardt, MainSpring vCIO

Perhaps, imagining your business shut down for three hours is a starting point for thinking about your business emergency plan. A lot happens in just three hours. An eye-opener would be to create a list of the impact felt in each division of your business.

The start of an IT and other emergencies

If you think that a business emergency is only weather-related, you would be wrong. To understand all the forces that can harm your business productivity, I visited the Ready.Gov website. Here is a list of emergencies that may impact business in the DMV regions:

  1. Northern Virginia, Maryland, and DC are prone to weather emergencies such as flooding, winter storms, or severe thunderstorms.
  2. Wide-spread health hazards such as COVID-19 can and did impact all business across our mid-Atlantic region.
  3. Unrest such as protests, marches, and acts of violence can cause traffic and worse.
  4. Cybersecurity threats from abroad and within the United States
  5. Power outages and infrastructure problems

While reviewing the Ready.Gov website, I realized that we had faced all five emergencies in the DMV regions in the past two years. How prepared was your business to meet the challenges of the past twenty-four months?

In Q4 of 2019, none of us knew that COVID-19 was lurking just around the corner. What’s next?

The impact of COVID-19 lingers across the region

The COVID pandemic gave us the scare of a generation, business and otherwise. It changed business culture, possibly forever. WFH (Work from Home) became a common phrase overnight. And our kids were at home too.

The technology impact of a family and business life centered at home changed trends. Unfortunately, some businesses in our region were not able to transition and closed.

To review what we learned from the COVID pandemic and what we should add to a business emergency plan, I spoke with MainSpring vCIO Joshua Brechbuehl.

Along with the managerial style changes we are seeing, are the changes around the traditional office. Many offices today are operating with few people in the building. Hoteling, or the idea of reserving offices and desks to minimize in- building headcounts, is now commonplace. This concept has allowed businesses to either drastically shrink their physical footprint, or even eliminate it altogether.”— Joshua Brechbuehl

As the physical footprint shrinks, business leaders and technology teams must ensure that the organization’s overall emergency plan is modified. If your business emergency plan has not been updated since Q1, 2020, it is time for a review.

Create a business taskforce

In the spring of 2020, I first suggested that MainSpring blog readers create a business task force to tackle the rapid transition from an office environment to WFH.

Again, I suggest that a business task force is ideal for crafting an emergency response plan. Who should be on your task force? Of course, your CIO or a virtual CIO should be part of the task force.

In addition, include team leaders, a representative from HR, and a selection of employees. Ensure a complete view, consider including some new employees and a representation from the longest-tenured employees.

As you create your organization’s emergency plan, it is not time to have tunnel vision. Listen to opinions and follow three steps from MainSpring.

Three steps: MainSpring’s IT planning response

I also spoke to Jolene Read, another member of the MainSpring vCIO team. A comment from Jolene caught my attention. As a vCIO, you are a technology detective.

The first step to building an effective business emergency response plan is to identify your risk. That’s where a technology detective turns over every rock and asks a lot of questions. To know the risk, you walk in the shoes of both the business leaders and the employees.

Once you identify and understand the risks, step two is to formulate the plan. The knowledge base of your vCIO is critical to the success of the plan. As you read this blog, your organization is probably planning for next year, including a technology budget. How comfortable do you feel in your overall technology plan and your emergency plan?

The third step is to implement your plan and inspire your employees to follow the technology plan. MainSpring vCIOs Jolene and Cleon both told me about the importance of staff training. Let’s use cybersecurity as an example. MainSpring’s ASAP Program (Automated Security Awareness Program) is just one example of the benefits of training during the implementation of a business emergency plan.

Knowledge is key

MainSpring vCIOs Cleon Lenhardt, Jolene Read, and Joshua Brechbuehl agree that knowledge is vital when creating a business emergency plan. MainSpring offers guidance through its managed services program.

An ideal way to meet MainSpring’s vCIO team and business leaders is to read our monthly blogs and technology updates and subscribe to our newsletter. Want to book a meeting to discuss your needs with one of these top-notch vCIOs? Contact us today and we will set it up!

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