Business Continuity in the Face of Disaster
A Business Continuity Planning White Paper
Derek Volk of Volk Packaging Discusses Disaster Recovery Planning on ‘Mind Your Own Business’
Five years ago, Derek Volk and his management team at Volk Packaging in Biddeford created a comprehensive business continuity plan for their company. Not only did they want to keep their vibrant packaging business alive and viable in the event of a disaster, but they also wanted to reassure talented employees, customers and bankers of their ability to recover key data and continue operation following a disaster event. On May 12th, 2012 Mr. Volk discussed the strategy behind his company’s plan on Mind Your Own Business radio on WLOB in Portland, Maine.
“A business continuity plan is just a fancy term for a disaster recovery plan,” said Mr. Volk. “And what it basically does is it sets up a guideline or path so that we [Volk Packaging] can be operational in the event that something makes us nonoperational.”
With the plan in place, Volk Packaging is able to appear to the outside world as though they are fully operational, even if in reality their building has burned to the ground. They have access to all-important information, which is stored electronically offsite, and even have their phones rerouted to an offsite facility so that they can communicate with customers immediately and seamlessly.
Volk’s business continuity plan is comprehensive. The plan covers everything including what happens when the phone rings; how data gets backed up; and how the company handles media inquiries about the disaster. The plan is updated frequently, and the management team is able to refer to the plan and achieve operational status as quickly as possible.
One of the most important parts of a disaster recovery plan is figuring out how to fulfill previously placed orders in a timely manner. Volk Packaging has addressed this issue by forging alliances with what they call “friendly competitors.”
“What we did is to call some friendly competitors,” said Mr. Volk. “And we created a document through our legal team that said in the event that something were to happen to us, they would run boxes for us …and if it happened to them, we would run boxes for them.”
The agreement enables both companies to remain operational in the event of a disaster, with minimal delay or inconvenience to customers.
Another important part of Volk Packaging’s business continuity plan is the management and backup of important or sensitive data – a role Volk Packaging has assigned to Systems Engineering.
“My IT people, Systems Engineering …they are a huge help,” said Mr. Volk. “We have over 50 computers in the company, and if they were to go down, we’d have a major problem. But with Systems Engineering, they’ve put a system in place where there is offsite data backup …and in the event the whole place burned to the ground …because of the work that Systems Engineering has done, we could be up and running essentially immediately.”
Creating a comprehensive business continuity plan may seem overwhelming to some, but Mr. Volk assures listeners that it is possible, and necessary for businesses large and small. He recommends starting with the basics – a risk assessment of the type of disasters most and least likely to affect your businesses – and from there, beginning to problem solve how you would get your business up and running as quickly as possible following the disaster event.