Rural business continuity planning consists of you planning for the continuation of your rural-based business and/or organization after a disaster and/or crisis has occurred. In most case, rural business continuity planning will also cover your needs if a disaster and/or crisis has directly impacted your business or organization. Your business or organization should not be allowed to come to a standstill after a disaster or crisis has occurred, locally. Instead, your business or organization should have proper rural business continuity planning in place to keep functions active and operating.

 

Rural Business Continuity Planning

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A disaster is a very chaotic event and often a horrible situation to experience. Disasters come in all sorts of shapes and sizes as well. The disaster can be something as small as a room catching fire at your facility to something large and devastating such as a tornado directly hitting your facility. No disaster is alike and proper rural business continuity planning will help you create a plan for all-hazard disaster type scenarios that might face your business or organization. In this article, we will explore the strategies and tactics of rural business continuity planning for your business or organization…

 

Form Your Rural Business Continuity Planning Team

You, the business owner, shouldn’t be the only individual that conducts rural business continuity planning for your organization. You should develop a team for this. A group of people will be much more effective than one person when it comes to rural business continuity planning for your organization. Other people can share their knowledge, expertise, areas of concern, feedback, questions and even opinions. Take it from emergency management planning – in order for emergency management to be a success – the “whole community” must be involved in emergency planning. This same concept goes for your business. Involve multiple individuals of your “whole organization” including you, your department leaders, emergency response team members, supervisors, customers, local government and anyone else who you can easily identify as a stakeholder of your organization.

 

Rural Business Continuity Planning Requires Understanding

How well do you understand disaster and crisis threats to your business or organization? In this step of rural business continuity planning, you need to identify and understand the threats and hazards that face your organization. Collect intelligence and information about risks, hazards and threats to your business and then research the collected data. Research it until you and your rural business continuity planning team has a full understanding of everything involved. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other businesses, organizations, communities and sources when you need to develop a better understanding about a related topic. If someone else has experienced disaster or crisis, they can be of great assistance in sharing their lessons learned with you are your organization. Once you identify and understand the risks, threats and hazards of your organization – now is the time to assess them. When assessing threats and hazards, you need to be prioritizing them, placing them into categories where one might be worse or more imminent than the other. What threat or hazard might happen? How likely is it to happen? How bad will the results be? Will there be any deaths, injuries or even damage of sorts? Consider each threat and hazard and measure it against other threats and hazards that face your organization.

 

The Objectives of Rural Business Continuity Planning

Identifying threats and hazards is one thing, developing goals and objectives to your rural business continuity planning is another! After you identify, understand and assess and prioritize threats and hazards that pose a risk to your organization, you need to determine priorities for operations in alignment with such threats and hazards. What do you hope to accomplish as a goal or an objective after you have completed a response operation following a disaster or crisis that involved your organization? Create goals and objectives that support your rural business continuity planning mission and lead to success after a disaster or crisis occurs. Sometimes smaller goals are better than larger goals during an operation – don’t hesitate to create smaller goals as long as they lead up to the big objective of your rural business continuity planning mission.

 

Rural Business Continuity Planning Develops a Plan

What are the hazards and threats facing your business? What are you going to do about them? What do you need to do to accomplish success after a disaster or crisis and reach the mission of your rural business continuity planning efforts? Now is the time to develop your business continuity plan. In this plan development stage, you also need to identify the resources you will need to continue to operate your business after a small too wide-scale disaster or crisis occurs. Do you have all of the resources stockpiled somewhere? If that stockpile becomes compromised, what is plan-B? Do you need to purchase resources or partner up with another entity to provide your business some resources? Are resources available right now? If you have goals and objectives set for your plan – now is the time to create deadlines for achieving such goals and objectives. A plan will dramatically help you with business continuity, especially in a rural area. However, if you do not follow the direction of your plan, it will not amount to anything useful or successful in the end. Before implementing and approving the plan, make sure you and your rural business continuity planning team reviews the plan to ensure that it is ready for implementation.

 

Rural Business Continuity Planning Maintenance

After implementing your plan, exercising the plan is important. You need to conduct training and exercise with all stakeholders involved including your employees, customers, local government, local first responders, local business and organizations and even members of the public who would likely become affected during a local disaster and/or crisis. Exercising the plan is important because it will allow you and your rural business continuity planning team evaluates the plan and identifies strengths and weaknesses of the plan for improvement after exercises have been completed. It is crucial to maintain and revise the plan when needed. A plan will go out of date and become obsolete if it is not tended to – rural business continuity planning is not a one-time activity. Prepare to always conduct rural business continuity planning and always plan to maintain the plan in order to be effective.

 

Have you conducted Rural Business Continuity Planning for Your Organization?

If a disaster or crisis occurred tomorrow, would your business or organization continue to operate? Please comment below telling how you feel about rural business continuity planning as share your thoughts, ideas, questions and opinions with us.

 

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About the Author

Shawn J. Gossman
Shawn J. GossmanB.S., M.S., M.B.A., SEM, PDS
Shawn J. Gossman is an article and publication contributor of rural and remote-based emergency management, continuity and public health topics. Shawn holds a Master of Science concentrating in Emergency Management and a MBA in Hazardous Environment Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Shawn is dedicated to helping rural communities and organizations be a part of the Whole Community approach of National Preparedness.