Reader’s Letter: Disaster preparedness should include a continuity management plan

POSTED: 08/7/11 8:35 PM

 Dear Editor,  

The threat faced by local companies on Welfare Road is real. Combine an active hurricane season with road closures and you have a recipe for disaster that will require urgent and pro-active disaster management planning. Despite the fact that St. Maarten roads require much upgrading and the fact that we live in a hurricane zone, it is apparent that most businesses are still inadequately prepared for disastrous situations. Not only are they vulnerable to the negative economic impact of road closures, but they are also vulnerable to the negative effects from security threats and natural disasters as well, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and even solar flares, I read. 

         While a lengthy road closure can pose a substantial threat to business operations, data loss, internal and external theft, floods and fires can be just as harmful. Unfortunately, it is certain that of the few businesses that have some semblance of a disaster preparedness plan, there is still little consideration given to business continuity management. When disasters happen, not only do businesses need to be prepared to immediately offset the effects of the detrimental event, they must do so while maintaining core operating functions.

Disaster preparedness without continuity management can be likened to fortifying a strategic position without a progressive plan of action. What can make things more complicated is the tendency for businesses to implement a disaster preparedness plan without fully considering the consequences.
         A good disaster preparedness plan shouldn’t hinder a business’ ability to continue functioning. Initiating a disaster preparedness plan that will protect the interests of the business should be an all-inclusive affair, with due diligence given not only to limiting damage from the situation at hand, but to maintaining operational stability.

Given the uncertainties faced by businesses in the present economic and financial climate of our young Country St. Maarten, continuity management can often mean the difference between success in the face of adversity or a complete loss of business. So often, companies take steps to limit their loss liability, but rarely consider the fact that most loss liability can be avoided altogether with proper safeguards in place. A well thought-out business continuity management plan should not only include a contingency centered around disaster preparedness but also a contingency for something as simple as road closures as well. Having such a continuity management plan in place can prove triumphant in the face of what would otherwise be considered tragedy. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Terrance Rey

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