Jason Nolan, certified business continuity planner at Eze Castle Integration, outlines the benefits of business continuity plans as sudden bouts of extreme weather conditions continue to dominate the winter weather news.
Mention the weather this season to nearly any hedge fund owner in any region of the country, and you’re likely to hear an earful. In regions facing the possibility of snow, ice, wind and flooding, hedge funds need multi-faceted plans to deal with the fallout.
Consider the following questions numerous funds have faced in recent weeks:
- It snowed more than a foot last night and the roads are closed, but the office is open. What do you tell employees to do?
- The office building is without power. How do you notify employees and continue to operate?
- Several employees were affected by the recent weather and have to deal with clean up at home. Who will handle their responsibilities until they are back?
When comprehensive business continuity plans exist, it is easier to navigate these difficulties. Such a plan could be likened to a Nor’easter, with its multiple components: wind, precipitation and flooding. Similarly, hedge funds must prepare weather-related plans that address employees, technology and communication.
Sound business continuity planning: communications and technology
Reaching employees through a manual phone tree is time-intensive and ineffective. One way to avoid this challenge is to implement an automated messaging system that can be configured to deploy immediate notifications to all employees simultaneously via e-mail, phone call or text message.
Before inclement weather strikes, each employee should compile a list of the phone numbers and other contact information for all individuals on whom their jobs are dependent. Additionally, employees should save the contact information of all external parties with whom they need to communicate in order to do business. Have them store this information so that it is accessible from any location.
If your company uses an alternate site when bad weather hits, be sure it has the capacity to accommodate all critical employees that may need to work from there in the case of an office closure. That means not only extra desks or tables, but also an adequate number of Citrix licenses and phone lines.
Sound business continuity planning: employees
In advance of inclement weather, let employees know whether they will report to an alternate site or begin conducting their work from a home office. If the plan is to have employees work from home, take steps to ensure they will have access to all resources necessary for performing their daily tasks. In either case, communicate the alternate work location procedures to all employees and conduct regular testing in advance to predict possible challenges.
Even if transportation methods remain intact, an employee may be faced with challenges at home as a result of a storm. In this case, is there someone else within the firm that can handle the employee’s most critical responsibilities? This is where planning measures taken in advance, such cross training employees, can be helpful.
An all-inclusive continuity plan can make the difference between a storm being an expected nuisance versus one that shuts down all business activity.