From weather-related disasters to cyber-attacks to pandemics, there are many types of disruptions and challenges your business could face at any moment. While it is hard to plan for all possible scenarios, one thing we have learned from recent events is that it is extremely important to have plans and a strategy in place to mitigate disruptions to your business and shipping needs. A disaster recovery plan is designed to figure out how to restore business processes back to normal within a certain amount of time if a disaster or unexpected events occur. However, a business continuity plan is a bit different than disaster recovery. Here’s what you need to know about business continuity plans, why you need one, how to get started and more.
What Is the Difference Between Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans?
Typically, disaster recovery and business continuity plans work together to help you mitigate disruptions to your business. The major difference is that disaster recovery plans help you identify and plan for types of events that could prevent your business from normal operations, and business continuity plans help you keep your business operational during a potential disruption.
These types of disaster events can be small scale to large scale. Small scale disasters include power outages, internet connectivity or server issues, maintenance issues at your building, heating or cooling issues and anything that could disrupt normal working activities. Large scale disasters include dangerous weather events, public health issues and other major or unpredictable events.
A disaster recovery plan is usually part of a business continuity plan. It’s important to have a disaster recovery and business continuity strategy in place that considers many different potential issues or problems a company could face. This will help keep you a step ahead and give you a little extra peace of mind.
What Is a Business Continuity Plan and How Do You Get Started?
First, it’s important to understand what business continuity plan means. A business continuity plan is a document outlining how a business will continue to operate during an unexpected event or unplanned disruption. Basically, a business continuity plan is designed to help you ensure that critical business functions will continue to work with minimal downtime should an unplanned disaster or interruption occur. Your business continuity plan’s specific details will depend on the needs of your business. However, there are a few basic items to help you get started now:
- Conduct a business impact analysis and risk assessment to identify your business’ time-sensitive and most important business functions. This part of the plan determines the scope, legal obligations, contracts, regulatory duties and provides a basic outline of any critical costs that are needed to run the business. Typically, a risk assessment is performed alongside the business impact analysis to determine any potential risks and how any service providers or businesses you partner with could also be impacted. Ask yourself this: what processes and resources do these items need to function properly?
- Identify and document all processes, resources and critical business functions. These could include legal document, data protection needs, employee health and safety processes, shipping and supply chain management strategies and speaking with your business partners about how different scenarios could impact their way of work. Ask yourself this: what does my business need to implement to keep business functions moving properly?
- Create a business continuity team within your organization and have this team develop a business continuity plan based on your findings from the impact analysis and critical business functions. Have your team discuss strategies for various types of disaster scenarios, such as a pandemic or serious public health threat, a cyber-attack or data breach, natural disasters and even active threat or active shooter situations.
- Have your team perform tests on any strategies they develop to ensure your business continuity plan has been tested fully. If something doesn’t work properly during testing, go back to the table with ways to improve it. For example, during a pandemic such as COVID-19, what measures need to be in place for employee safety while still keeping critical business functions moving forward? Does your team foresee the potential for layoffs or changes to hours worked? How will your company train your staff prior to the need to implement the business continuity plan?
How Can Having a Business Continuity Plan Help You?
Disruptions to normal business can cause issues in controlling your spend, product development, customer service, shipping and more. When business is running smoothly, the pieces fall into place more naturally, even when there are slight hiccups in operations. While creating your business continuity plan can be a big task, it is well worth the effort. You will have a strategy in place before a disruption occurs, and you will know how to handle any unforeseen problems well in advance. You will be able to train your staff on how to communicate efficiently, keep critical business functions moving and identify last minute needs quickly in the event of a major issue. This gives you, your staff, your stakeholders and anyone else important to your business peace of mind when everyone is on the same page.
What If You’re a Small or Medium Sized Business?
Regardless of the size of your business, having a solid business continuity plan in place is important for the same reasons it’s important for larger businesses. You have a bottom line to fulfill. You have customers submitting orders. You have a budget. You have a staff, even if it’s a smaller staff, to keep safe and healthy. You are busy running a business, and you don’t want to be in the dark when an emergency or disaster situation eventually happens. You want to be prepared.
3 Tips for Small to Medium Business Reopening Shipping
We understand that it will take time to develop a business continuity plan. However, you can put together a basic plan now to help you reopen shipping and start resuming normal business functions:
3. Develop Your Basic Business Continuity Plan
Like we stated above, it’s important to have a business continuity plan in place before an event occurs. However, sometimes you have to develop a quick plan to keep your business moving while you develop a larger, more in-depth plan. Even the most well-developed disaster recovery and business continuity plans didn’t plan for a global pandemic, like COVID-19, so being able to adapt quickly is even more important.
Start your basic business plan by addressing your budget and needs, including your shipping and supply chain requirements. But how do you identify what your needs are?
Ask yourself some questions to get started. Will you continue to ship the same amount or number of products? Do you expect to ship more products than usual? For example, if you typically provide certain supplies, like food, medications, cleaning supplies or other essential items, you may see an increase in product demand and shipments.
Some other questions to ask yourself are:
- Do you have the budget to hire temporary help in the event of an increased supply or shipping demand or could you afford to pay current staff to do more? If so, how many additional employees do you expect to need or how many additional hours would you need your current staff to work?
- Did your business have to close temporarily? If so, consider what you will need to reopen safely and resume normal business and shipping operations?
- Were you able to keep limited hours going during the unplanned event or disaster? If so, what do you need to be able to increase your hours to return to normal?
- Are you getting ready for more business as things pick up?
- Are you shifting production to a whole new product and need a new shipping plan?
Here are some resources to that can help you be prepared and get your products shipped:
- Packaging – It can literally make or break your supply chain! When you package your freight properly, you lower damage risk and lower the occurrence of billing adjustments. Correct packaging of your freight also saves time and money. Check out our comprehensive, free Guide to Freight Packaging.
- Experts on your side. Don’t go it alone. Let FreightCenter help you and your business get back to business as usual. We can improve your shipping efficiency by finding the best mode and routes to get your shipment delivered. We can also help identify alternative shipping solutions, such as warehousing and consolidation solutions. We have expert shipping agents that are always ready to help.
- Get the lowest quotes. Our powerful online shipping platform discovers capacity and delivers the best options and routes, so you can control costs, operate leaner and save time. Find the carrier that best suits your business shipping needs and more.
2. Facilitate Safety Guidelines
We are all operating in a completely different environment today and facilitating safety is a priority. Following all CDC and government safety guidelines will help you mitigate further disruptions to your business. When you follow the guidelines, customers, vendors and employees will feel safer returning to your business, so build in safety guidelines as you develop your plan. The CDC is a great resource for small businesses and offers guidelines for handwashing, social distancing, hygiene and more.
Changing the shipping process to ensure the safety of employees, vendors and customers is key to include in your plan. Be clear in your plan about which guidelines your staff must follow at all times. It’s also important to keep these safety measures in mind as you prepare your products for shipping, including packaging, pick-ups and drop-offs. Here are some things to remember:
- Follow social distancing guidelines.
- Wear a face mask.
- Practice proper hand washing and hand sanitizing hygiene.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly.
- Wear disposable gloves when unpackaging a delivery.
- Consider assigning one person to sign for pick-ups or drop-offs
- Consolidate any packages you ship frequently to the same location to once or twice a month instead of weekly to lower any exposure.
1. Partner with FreightCenter
No matter if you are a seasoned shipper or new to shipping, partnering with a 3PL, like FreightCenter, has many benefits. Your FreightCenter agent will work with you to understand the shipping needs of your business and how to best support you during both normal and unprecedented times. If you are experiencing changes or disruptions to your supply chain, your 3PL partner, like FreightCenter, can help you find alternative shipping solutions and the best carrier rates. Our goal is to help you get back on track as quickly as possible. Let us worry about capacity and lanes, so you have more time to focus on running your business.
Keep Your Products Moving No Matter What
The bottom line is that you want and need to keep your products in the hands of your customers. When an unforeseen event occurs, it can be extra confusing to keep your products shipping. You need to spend time running your business and less time searching for ways to ship your goods to your customers. That’s where partnering with a 3PL, like FreightCenter, gives you the upper hand during normal and unprecedented events.
Quickly and easily search from hundreds of carriers to find the right carrier at the best shipping rate. In addition, our FreightCenter agents are experts at helping new and experienced small business shippers identify alternative shipping solutions, such as consolidation, warehousing and more. In fact, you can even find some of the best refrigerated truck carriers and hazardous materials carriers when you partner with us.
We understand how critical it is for your business to run smoothly, and we are ready to help you develop a shipping strategy that takes the guesswork out of shipping. Instantly compare quotes from top carriers or call one of our shipping experts at 844-212-7447.