Maybe it’s just us, but we’re thinking 2011 will be remembered as the year of the disaster plan. We have seen tsunamis, fires, earth quakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes, dust storms, and the snow and ice of last winter. The good news is that we have seen a new or at least renewed awareness in the businesses we support and the need to be prepared up front for the unthinkable, even if it is not in your back yard. We are a global economy who contracts for products and services that are critical to the life of our businesses all over the world, and our customers are also spread over multiple geographic areas. We all know that time is money, and in a sluggish economy that is only heightened.
That is why the article published in the April 2011 Security Management really stands out. “Something in the Air” by Matthew Harwood does a really good job of highlighting a vulnerability that most business continuity, emergency/crisis management plans don’t consider. What happens when employees get trapped by a disaster while traveling? According to Harwood, in April when Eyjafjallajökull erupted in Iceland, the ensuing result was that travelers got caught and business was disrupted for days, weeks, and in some cases months. He reported that a National Business Travelers Association (NBTA) Foundation survey reported that the crisis negatively affected 80 percent of respondents, costing the average company nearly $200,000. He went on to say that NBTA affiliated companies also cancelled 5,600 scheduled meeting and 165,000 trips.
As a company in the business of identifying risks and quantifying probability and criticality, this event is a reminder that security professionals have to be “out of the box” thinkers and glean information from the “lessons learned” of other organizations. We can guess what you are thinking: How in the world can we plan for every possibility and who could have anticipated the effect that a volcano in Iceland might have on a business in the US? We can’t plan for every possibility, but the lessons that we should take from this event is not about the event itself. The message here is that we need to have a plan to mitigate the negative effects that such an event would pose on our ability to service our customers and keep our employees both safe and productive.
Among the findings that this event highlights is the importance of a plan for travel as a part of the business continuity plan. Also, the impact that this kind of event has on a business cannot only focus on the business traveler as it can also affect the business when key employees are on leisure travel and get stuck. Some lessons learned to be considered include:
- Centralized traveler tracking
- Flexible crisis communications infrastructure and strategy
- Emergency credit limit adjustments
- Protocols to keep stranded employees productive
An idea that we wouldn’t have necessarily thought of is the use of a designated travel agency for not only business-related travel but also personal travel. That provides a level of transparency that may be critical during an event without violating an individual’s privacy.
So the questions are:
Does your crisis management plan include a plan for travel?
If so, have you ever had to use your plan for travel?
Do you have any “best practices” or “lessons learned” based on your experiences?
Plan. Protect. Prosper.
Protus3 specializes in security system design, security consulting, corporate investigations and other investigative services. Partner with Protus3 and we will examine each situation to identify threats and develop solutions for your best outcome.