Written for The Voice – a West Chester Chamber Alliance publication by Michael Shawn McCabe
Tacey Wilder, Director-Strategic Partner Solutions with Agility Recovery Solutions, spoke with us about Disaster Preparedness and Crisis Management. These topics have become increasingly important to businesses of all sizes. While the spotlight on business related crisis management refocused in the wake of 9/11, the recent “Ohio Hurricane” (Ike) created some extraordinarily difficult situations for local businesses.
The July Chamber Monthly Luncheon was packed with a diverse group of business owners and professionals. Tracey’s message connected with many of us as she spun lively and detailed scenarios that have impacted her practice alongside Agility clients. Her passion for her profession was evident as she presented “Lessons Learned in 2008”.
Tracey reminded us that, during times of crisis, our challenges may not exist within the vacuum of our own business. She explained that supply chain management isn’t just a buzzword; rather it’s the entire system from the power to turn the lights on to our trusted vendors that ultimately satisfy our clients’ requests and make the sale. Developing a clear understanding of what weaknesses can occur and how they impact your business was a theme throughout her discussion.
Communication is critical to business. Tracey emphasized the importance of having multiple forms of communication not only for your employees, but for your customers. She quickly enlightened us to many best practice strategies such as hosting your web and data offsite. Business communications are increasingly tied to multiple technologies. Tracey explained, “Manage technology and networks so you can manage your business and your people.” We also discussed that whom you entrust to communicate with the media, your staff and customers is a critical component of a wise disaster management plan. Tracey suggests that you appoint one to three individuals as the key contacts and then instruct all of your staff to defer media and customer inquiries to them immediately following a crisis event.
A memorable anecdote that Tracey shared with us concerns one of most beloved business technologies; the Blackberry®. It turns out that White House staffers are given very strict instructions about what overseas locations are considered ‘safe’ for their smartphone usage. Those locations that are not considered safe are in the ‘kill zone’. In fact, they are so concerned that hackers could abuse the business of the White House via one of these devices that they have the ability to remotely disable any staffer’s phone. Tracey used this extreme example to allow each of us to question the security within our own businesses. She brought several examples of thumb drives and portable devices that can be used to harm the systems that we rely on. What are your written rules related to portable devices? Do your employees take critical business information home on their laptops?
While sometimes handling a disaster means, as Tracey explains, “being able to flip the switch and turn the lights on”, it may also mean having the proper insurance coverage.
We all know that down time negatively impacts our business. However, Tracey shared with us the lesser known consequences: the impact on loyalty, brand equity, productivity, and goodwill/trust as well as revenue and market share.
She ultimately answered the question as to why each of us should have a plan with a quote, “The ability to manage emerging risks, anticipate the interactions between different types of risk and bounce back from disruption will be a competitive differentiator for companies and countries alike in the 21st century.”
We’re very thankful to Ernest Leffler, VP and General Manager of Peak 10, for sponsoring Tracey’s visit to our Monthly Member Luncheon. You can contact Tracey at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ernest at email@example.com.
Editorial note: Michael Shawn McCabe served as the Emcee for the July 2009 West Chester Chamber Alliance Monthly Member Luncheon.