Crisis Management sans Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

A few years ago I was making a consulting sales call on a small food processing company.  This company had one facility; half of which housed their business offices and half of which was the production and warehouse facility.

The CEO of the company agreed to meet with me as a favor to a mutual friend of ours, but he was already set on the fact that he did not need a business continuity or disaster recovery plan.

“Look Joe,” he says, “it’s easy; if we experience a disaster here we are simply out of business – case closed.  Why do I need a disaster recovery or business continuity plan?  We have such a unique facility and business process, there is no place else for us to go.”

Now, I could have tried to convince him that he was at risk of component failures, a single machine could shut down, or his computer infrastructure could fail, or a number of other, less than total devastation risks that he might want to recover from – but, I could tell he was already entrenched in a defensive posture and was not going to be sold on the need for a disaster recovery or business continuity program.  So, instead, I took a different tact.

“Okay, I understand.  But even in that case, wouldn’t you want to ‘go out of business’ the right way?  Even if your business is completely destroyed, don’t you want to make sure your employees got out okay?  And, wouldn’t you still need to pay them what you owe them?  You might still have accounts receivables outstanding – wouldn’t you still want to collect that money?  You would have bills that need to be paid and debts resolved.  What would you do with your assets that weren’t destroyed?  Bank accounts?  Wouldn’t you want to notify your clients that had unfulfilled orders?  Maybe assist them in finding other alternatives?  How would you notify all of your stakeholders that an incident occurred and you are no longer in business?  Wouldn’t you want to do these things in a timely and organized manner?  Could you achieve that today?  Wouldn’t you still need some of your employees to assist in the proper shut down of the business operations?  Who would you want to help you in these tasks?  Where would you meet?  Do they know who they are?  Do you have the information you need concerning bank accounts; accounts receivable/payable; outstanding orders; customer contact information- stored off-site where you could access it to properly shut down your operations?”

Even with the strategy of shutting down the company – there is a lot of work to do – besides the fact that you want to make sure you effectively respond to the crisis to protect the health and welfare of your employees and other stakeholders of the firm.

So, we agreed, there was no need for the traditional Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans – but I did win the privilege of helping them develop, implement and test a pretty robust emergency response and crisis management program for such a small business.

I think he was expecting a fight from me – instead we entered into a beautiful business relationship.

Thank you for your input.