Businesses need to plan better to recover faster

21 November 2013

New Zealand businesses and organisations need to plan better to recover faster from natural disasters, a University of Canterbury researcher says.

Businesses need to plan better to recover faster

Dr John Vargo

New Zealand businesses and organisations need to plan better to recover faster from natural disasters, a University of Canterbury researcher says.

Businesses must plan to be resilient post-disaster. Many organisations do not have any business continuity, disaster preparedness or emergency plans, Dr Erica Seville, co-leader of UC’s Resilient Organisations, says.

"But what we are finding is even in organisations that have done some planning, many are not finding them useful. We therefore need to rethink the way businesses plan for disasters.

"They should be doing some of the basics of business continuity planning but in addition they need to look at building social capital as much as financial capital and developing leadership throughout their organisation.

"Fostering their network of friends they can call in the middle of the night who are willing to help is important. Developing capability for being adaptive and agile in the face of rapid change, creating a strong unity of purpose and becoming a learning organisation are other key issues for businesses to consider.’’

Dr Seville and UC’s Dr John Vargo will be giving the final What if Wednesday public lecture of the year about business recovery at UC next week (November 27).  See: http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/wiw/.

Dr Vargo says businesses must plan for the fact that a disaster will inevitably never fit an organisation’s planning assumptions.

"They must base their planning around consequences and impacts on the organisation, rather than basing it on particular events such as an earthquake or flooding.

"For Christchurch, issues relating to commercial insurance have, on the whole, been less problematic than residential insurance.

"However, business interruption insurance has been confusing for many and hasn’t delivered the cover many expected. Quite a few organisations had no cover for business disruption.

"There are real issues for tourism and education sectors as a lot of their losses came from reduced numbers of tourists and students, which were not covered by the policies.

"There are challenges for people renting premises as there were mismatches in timing of cover versus when disruption occurs. A lack of standard wording/interpretation has meant settlements have more complex and less timely.

"It is important to focus on what is important for the business rather than becoming overly focused on maximising insurance claims,’’ Dr Vargo says.

For further information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168
kip.brook@canterbury.ac.nz

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