Use processes to prepare for the unexpected

If the first half of 2020 teaches us anything, it’s that challenges can arise at any time, resulting in unanticipated consequences. For businesses, those could be immediate in the aftermath of an emergency or far-reaching through limited supplies, reduced production, or customers who look elsewhere while the company gets back on its feet.

The Insurance Information Institute quotes FEMA research that indicates 40% of businesses that close due to disaster never reopen, and another 25% fail within the following year. That makes it vitally important for businesses to prepare for the unexpected and setting up processes to manage the risks they could face.

Forewarned is forearmed

At the very least, a risk assessment process enables your business to identify where it may be vulnerable, and what can be done about it. Setting up a risk assessment means identifying the natural, man-made, and technological setbacks that could be reasonably expected to impact the business.

Next, the business needs to identify the assets that would likely be impacted, and the severity of the loss should the worst-case scenario eventuate. Management should run through the process at least annually, using the collected information from across the business to calculate the level of risk, with all mitigating activities and steps factored in.

Taking those risks and controls and building them into the risk register in Nintex Promapp® ensures that not only are they recorded, but they become visible. Wherever a business process or procedure touches on one of the risk factors, users will be able to see how the process contributes to managing that risk.

When those processes are changed, the risk manager is notified so they can verify that the controls are still relevant and effective. If it’s deemed necessary, those risk managers can also be added as approvers for process changes, adding another layer of protection for potentially vulnerable activities.

The risk register also tracks reviews and signoffs, ensuring that the controls in place are regularly assessed and acknowledged by the relevant parties. Where controls aren’t reviewed within the agreed timeframes, escalations highlight the issue for risk managers to make sure there are no surprises should a disaster occur.

Know your contingency steps

Risk assessments are an excellent foundation for identifying vulnerabilities within the business, but in a worst-case-scenario, companies need emergency protocols in place to ensure continuity of service for their customers.

There are numerous processes to consider. A crisis communication plan identifies who is responsible for maintaining communications with customers, suppliers, government agencies, and staff, and outlines what messages should be prioritized and contains the key contact details and credentials for essential channels. An IT recovery plan records the steps to mitigate a software or hardware breakdown, including recovering data, securing systems, and contacting affected customers.

One of the key sets of processes every business should establish is emergency response procedures. These could include evacuations in the event of a fire or natural disaster, shelter-in-place protocols for biological or chemical hazards in the environment, or lockdown procedures to deal with terrorism or active-shooter scenarios.

The practice of capturing these processes helps a business work through their preparedness, identifying shelter rooms, ensuring adequate supplies are on hand and recognizing what resources are required to preserve life in the event of an emergency.

By working through the scenarios and building robust processes that recognize local regulations, codes, and requirements, a company can ensure they meet all the necessary expectations for signage, safety equipment, and practices.

Once those have all been established, the process provides a clear set of guidelines – including regular drills – that inform staff and ensure everyone is adequately trained to respond if the need arises.

Plan for tomorrow, today

The best approach to disasters and emergencies is to recognize the possibilities, measure the risks, and establish clear processes that manage them. In this way, businesses can prepare for the unexpected and ensure they have a well-constructed plan to follow.

To start your emergency response planning, download some of the Nintex Promapp Emergency Response process templates from the Nintex Template Gallery today: https://gallery.nintex.com/.

 

 

Interested in improving your processes with the Nintex Platform? Click here to request a free trial today.

 

 

Thomas Kohlenbach

Thomas Kohlenbach is a Sr. Product Evangelist at Nintex. Based in Auckland, New Zealand, he is an enthusiastic and passionate business improvement advocate with over 12 years of experience in improving business processes with Nintex Promapp process mapping and management software.

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