Business Continuity after Cyclone Debbie

By QRMC / Posted on May 9, 2017

At a regional level, in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Debbie and the subsequent flooding emergency, response and recovery systems are being assessed and a major review has been ordered by the Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan into how Queensland disaster management groups responded to ensure that “lessons were learned”.

Whilst Business Continuity Management is recognised as an important part of the planning which is necessary to successfully manage business disruptions, many business don’t use the opportunity after an event to assess (or re-assess) these arrangements.

Larger organisations typically have very structured business continuity plans in place, while medium and smaller business use ‘response strategies’ to manage disruptions and often these are not documented systems.

There is tendency, particularly after a business disruption event for complacency to set in. This is especially true if the organisation was not severely impacted by the event or if the event by-passed the direct area within which the organisation operates.

In the lead up to Cyclone Debbie, practical preparations were put in place across a number of regional areas, ranging from sandbagging to mobilising electricity maintenance workers to areas where they would most likely be needed to effect repairs. Much of this preparation came from the lessons learnt from past events.

As a business, being well prepared for a disaster event can provide an opportunity to create a competitive advantage.  An interview was heard with a local bakery owner the day before the Debbie impacted the region where the baker stated that they would remain open “as long as they had electricity,” implying that if there was no electricity they would have to close.  During disaster events, businesses cannot always rely on outside agencies for utilities such as power, water and communications, and often it is those businesses with effective alternate plans that not only limit their losses, but also create a positive image to both their customers and the community at large and use adversity to create opportunity.

It is important to remember that a BCP, no matter how well crafted, is useless if no-one in the organisation understands it or is prepared at short notice to implement it. Most business, by this time after the event, would have passed the immediate recovery phase, and now is a good time to assess whether the BCP was understood, properly utilised, and effective. A formal review and testing of Business Continuity arrangements whilst it is fresh in peoples’ minds benefits organisations by ensuring that lessons learnt are not simply relegated to water cooler stories and anecdotes, but are formally documented within the business continuity planning arrangements.

QRMC can provide advice and assistance in facilitating the review for your organisation’s BCM needs. Contact us for an obligation-free discussion or quote.


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