LOS ANGELES, Jan. 19, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) - Earthquakes. Power outages. Sabotage. They are only a few of the threats that business owners must prepare for to keep their employees safe and their companies running during an emergency.
Identifying possible and most likely threats and preparing a business continuity plan are essential to long-term success, City National Bank's Thomas M. Beaver, senior vice president and Information Services technology support manager, told an audience yesterday morning at Town Hall Los Angeles' conference, "PREPARE!, A Leader's Guide to Security and Emergency Preparedness," held at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
"Small and mid-sized businesses must understand the benefits of being prepared and the consequences of not being prepared," Beaver said. "Thoughtful planning can reduce potential economic loss and increase customer confidence."
The first key to business continuity planning, Beaver said, is to identify possible threats. When that's done, business owners should rank them according to likelihood and potential risk or damage caused to the business. Threats to consider should include natural disaster (such as earthquakes or fires), technology (power outage and computer virus attack), facilities (heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, failure), human behavior (theft and sabotage) and harm to reputation.
The second key to preparedness, Beaver said, is to make sure everyone in the organization knows their role during an event. Techniques to ensure employee understanding include education (in-person or Web-based), testing and drills, updating plans and testing again.
During the presentation, Beaver offered the following recommendations to business owners:
- Develop and practice evacuation procedures to ensure the safety of employees. Outline specific steps, and make sure each employee understands his or her role during an emergency. Plan not only for evacuation, but transportation and communication as well. Identify primary and back-up locations where employees should gather during an emergency evacuation.
- Establish procedures that enable your company to communicate quickly and accurately with employees and their families, customers, vendors, media, regulators, and others, as necessary.
- Build information and technology systems that will enable your company to recover quickly from disasters.
- Put together a crisis management plan that anticipates different emergency scenarios and prescribes appropriate responses.
Beaver said that when determining risk, consider key factors such as:
- Limited resources - it is important to utilize resources wisely by employing backup systems that also provide day-to-day productivity and don't sit idly waiting to be useful only in the rare event of an emergency;
- Unique employee skills - make sure employees who are responsible for multiple tasks have at least one backup who is trained and capable of assuming those duties should the primary employee become unavailable. Also, be sure that procedures are well documented so that institutional knowledge can be transferred without relying solely on personnel; and
- Public expectations - be sure customers understand that in the event of an emergency, your company will be there for them and can continue to operate despite, for example, a small power outage. Moreover, communicate to customers that in more extensive emergencies, like an earthquake, for instance, your business will be able to react quickly and deliver at least limited products or services that they count on. The public becomes more understanding the more widespread an emergency is, so the expectations are greater that a business remain at full capacity during an isolated company incident than during a regional natural disaster.
"City National works with entrepreneurs every day and understands the sweat equity that business owners invest in their endeavors," Beaver said. "We recommend that they address their preparedness planning before it harms everything that they, their families and their employees work so hard every day to build."
About City National
City National Corporation (NYSE:CYN) is a financial services company with $14.6 billion in total assets. Its wholly owned subsidiary, City National Bank, provides banking, investment and trust services through 54 offices, including 12 full-service regional centers, in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City.
City National is ranked among America's top companies in Forbes magazine's "Super 500" list. It also is one of the nation's top wealth managers, according to Barron's magazine. The company and its affiliates manage or administer more than $48 billion in client trust and investment assets, including more than $27 billion under direct management.
For more information about City National, visit the company's Web site at cnb.com.
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CONTACT: City National Bank