From weather-related harm to cyber-attacks to pandemics, there are many types of disruptions and tests your business could face. It’s hard to plan for all possible scenarios. There is one thing we’ve learned from recent events. That it is vital to have plans and a strategy regarding a consistent supply chain. Plans in place to ease disruptions to your business and shipping needs. A disaster recovery plan is for this issue if it ever arrives to figure out how to restore business action back to normal. Back within a certain amount of time, if a disaster or surprise events occur. However, a business continuity plan is a bit different. Below is what you need to know about them. 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. They do so to help you mitigate disruptions to your business. The significant difference is that disaster recovery plans help you spot and plan for types of events. Events that could prevent your business from standard action. Business continuity plans help you keep your business in action during a potential break.
These types of disaster events can be small to large scale. Small-scale disasters include power outages, internet connectivity, or server issues. In addition, maintenance issues at your location, heating or cooling issues, and anything that could disrupt normal work activity. Large-scale hardships include dangerous weather events, public health issues, and other major or fickle events.
It’s essential to have a disaster recovery and business continuity plan. One is normally part of the other. You need to consider any potential issues or problems one could face. This will help you stay a step ahead and give you extra peace of mind.
What Is a Business Continuity Plan, and How Do You Start?
First, it’s important to understand what a business continuity plan means. A business continuity plan is a document outlining how a business will continue to operate during a surprise event. Essentially, a business continuity plan is designed to help you ensure that critical business functions will continue to work. A plan with minimal downtime should an unplanned disaster or delay occur. Your business continuity plan’s specific details will depend on the needs of your business. However, there are a few essential items to help you get started:
- Conduct a business impact analysis and risk assessment to identify your business’ time-sensitive and crucial business functions. This part of the plan determines the scope, legal obligations, contracts, and regulatory duties. It provides a basic outline of any critical costs that are needed to run the business. Typically, a risk test performs alongside the business impact analysis. To determine any potential risks and how any service providers or companies you partner with could also be affected. Ask yourself this: what actions and assets do these items need to function correctly?
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 Strategy Management
In addition, please speak with your business partners about how different plots could impact their way of work. Ask yourself this: what does my business need to use to keep business functions active?
How Do You Start: Continued
- Create a business continuity team within your organization. Have this team develop a business continuity plan based on your findings from the impact analysis and critical business functions. Make sure your team discusses strategies for various types of disaster scenes. Such as a pandemic or grim public health threat, a cyber-attack or data breach, and natural disasters. In addition, 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 correctly during testing, go back to the table with ways to improve it. A pandemic, such as COVID-19, is a good example. 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 spending, product development, customer service, shipping, and more. When a business runs smoothly, the pieces fall into place more naturally, even with slight hiccups in operations. While creating your business continuity plan can be a big task, it is well worth it. You will have a strategy in place before supply chain disruption occurs. In addition, 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. This keeps critical business functions moving and identifies last-minute needs quickly in the event of a major issue. Staying on the same page brings peace of mind. Brings peace of mind to you, your staff, your stakeholders, and anyone else crucial to your business.
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 essential. Similarly, for the same reasons, it’s important for larger businesses. You have a bottom line to fulfill. There are customers submitting orders. You have a budget and have a staff, even if it’s a smaller staff, to keep safe and healthy. Coworkers and yourself are busy running a business. You don’t want to be in the dark when an emergency or disaster situation eventually happens.
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
As 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 developing a 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 start. 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? 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 that can help you prepare and get your products shipped:
- Packaging – This strategy 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. FreightCenter 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. 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. Therefore, 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. This includes 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 shipments, to lower any exposure.
1. Partner with FreightCenter
Partnering with a 3PL, like FreightCenter, has many benefits. No matter if you are a seasoned shipper or new to shipping. Your FreightCenter agent will work with you to understand the shipping needs of your business. In addition, how to best support you during both normal and unprecedented times. Are you 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 product’s shipping. You need to spend time running your business. In addition, you shorten the time searching for ways to ship your goods. 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. Options 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 supply chain strategy that takes the guesswork out of shipping. Instantly compare quotes from top carriers or call one of our shipping experts at 800.716.7608Get a Shipping Quote