By Cong B. Corrales
IS YOUR business ready for the “ber” months? With the onset of the typhoon season in the country, an official of the Office of the Civil Defense reminded businesses prepare for the oncoming typhoons.
“Natural hazards cannot ultimately be controlled and avoided; however, the underlying factors and pressures that cause the vulnerabilities can be managed so that the disaster risks can be reduced,” Romeo F. Fajardo, OCD administrator said.
Drawing from the experience of typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan), Fajardo said businesses that were not fully prepared closed shop resulting to instant massive unemployment in the affected areas and making affected communities harder to recover and rebuild.
Fajardo pointed out that during typhoon Yolanda many private hospitals stopped operating, which in turn denied victims of the storm much-needed medical assistance. The reason: most, if not all, of the small to medium enterprises (SMEs) did not have continuity plans.
“Once businesses are affected the local economy of the affected area will also be affected,” he said. Had the privately-owned utilities – water, power, transport, and communications – drawn up their continuity plans before the storm, these basic lifelines could have less affected.
Business Continuity Plans include the concepts of recovery time objective (RTO), or a company-set deadline on how fast their company can recover.
A Business Continuity Plan does not end with the company’s employees and families but also the surrounding communities, Fajardo said.
Based on the data from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the typhoon season in the country usually begins in June and peaks in October with at least three tropical cyclones per month, on the average.
This slightly ebbs down by November with two tropical cyclones per month. According to the World Risk Report, last year, the country is ranked third in the world most exposed and at risk to natural hazards. The Philippines has been ranked ninth and sixth in the years 2009 and 2010, respectively.
“For the Philippines, the study’s findings are simply grim: Of the 173 countries surveyed, the Philippines ranked No. 3 in its ‘most high-risk’ list. It is also the country that is the most vulnerable to risks in Asia.”
The country is vulnerable to almost all types of natural hazards since it is situated in the Pacific typhoon belt, volcanic ring of fire and the continuing climate change brought about by the greenhouse effect. “The private sector has to survive a calamity in the country, one way or the other; thus the need for a Business Continuity Plan. This is still a new concept,” Fajardo said.
In a study by Young Won Park entitled Supply Chain Lessons from the Catastrophic Natural Disaster in Japan, last year, even if diversifying the locations of business ventures would “increase flexibility and abates risk, information ‘portability’—or the ability to quickly disseminate design and operations data along the supply chain—is also crucial to bouncing back from an unexpected catastrophe.”
“One major lesson from Japan is that companies need to disperse the flow of information along with the physical location of production. Developing ways to capture and share information throughout an existing or expanding supply chain can benefit the overall manufacturing process in addition to mitigating risk,” the same study reads in part.
Takahiro Ono, a Business Continuity Plan manager of Mitsubishi Corporation, said that Business Continuity Plans ensure continuity of operations and services; businesses could restart operations quickly within a tolerable period and can avoid going bankrupt.