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When planning for recovery, most companies’ Business Continuity Plans are so focused on recovering critical systems and people that they often overlook the importance of communication during an incident that impairs normal business. Communication is key both for continuing internal operations as well as protecting the company’s reputation.

One of the biggest lessons learned from incidents such as Hurricane Sandy and several of the recent security breaches is that ongoing communication both internally and externally was lacking. Designating point people to oversee communications during an event will save valuable time in a recovery effort, as well as salvage the company’s reputation to the public and to stakeholders.

Internal Communications

It is important to maintain ongoing communication with management and employees in order to disseminate information regarding the situation at hand to allow for a smooth and efficient recovery effort. Ensuring the employees know the nature of the scenario, how to respond, and where to be and when, are crucial elements to make certain that everyone is on the same page and that critical time is not lost. Establishing multiple vehicles to communicate information is crucial. This may include, but is not limited to, phone trees, automatic messaging services, employee hotlines, and secure online portals/websites.

External Communications

Designating key personnel to handle external communication during an emergency is paramount. It is important to make employees aware that only approved company personnel should speak externally regarding official company business. Sample media statements should be documented in the company’s Business Continuity Plan in a fashion that is easily customizable to the nature of the event. Information should be factual and only shared when details are validated. The goal of media and external announcements should always focus on the safeguarding of client/customer information and should ensure the public that all efforts are being made to protect information and continue critical business.

Ongoing Communications

One of the biggest lessons learned from recent disasters that caused companies to initiate their continuity plans was a lack of ongoing communication, both internally and externally. Many organizations focus on communication at the onset of an event but fail to continue constant communication throughout the event, including when operations are back to normal. It is critical for companies to consider the proper schedule for communicating event details and ongoing ways in which this can be done for the duration of a business interruption.

Your Business Continuity Plan is only as strong as your ability to communicate it effectively. In the midst of a business interruption is not the time to create messaging or decide who is responsible for what. Communication preparation is critical, and will help expedite recovery efforts, protect company assets from further compromise, and minimize confusion and loss. Bottom line, communication is the key to a successful business recovery – before, during, and after a business interruption occurs.

Contact Us!

For more information about this topic, please contact Tracy Hall, MBCP, IT Assurance Manager, at 413-726-6884 or thall@wolfandco.com