The business impact of the recent earthquake and aftershocks

Some interesting snippets coming out of the aftermath of the recent earthquake and aftershocks.

Forsyth Barr were caught out in Christchurch in 2011 when they couldn’t get back into their building to access paper documents that were not in electronic form.  As a Forsyth Barr director said” you have to assume you will never get back in.” Forsyth Barr arranged for computers and a place for their staff to work but couldn’t replace the original documents stuck in their condemned building in Christchurch. They did however put a plan in place that worked for them this time when their Lower Hutt office was closed after the 14 November earthquake.

Some legal firms in Christchurch only had paper copies of wills and lost them in 2011. How embarrassing!

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Business lessons from Paradise

On 23 May 2014 an historic homestead in Central Otago was burnt to the ground, apparently due to an electrical fault following a lightning strike. The homestead was at Paradise, beyond Queenstown, beyond Glenorchy, beyond the top of Lake Wakatipu, .  It’s a fantastic place and lots of people go there to get away from it all.  No mobile coverage, no tech toys.  Just nature at its best amongst the mountains.

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Good recordkeeping enables your business to operate after a disaster

At the hearing into the collapse of the CTV building following the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011, a structural engineer said that he was unable to present his company’s records of a CTV fitout.  He said the records were lost after his former offices in a Victoria St building was severely damaged in the quake and later demolished.

This is a classic example of poor recordkeeping and shows how a lack of planning for continuing in business following a disaster can impact on a business.  Would you feel confident about using this particular engineering company after hearing this statement?

A disaster doesn’t have to be as major as the Christchurch earthquakes.  It could be a flood following a superabundance of rain or a fire that is restricted to a particular building or even a failure in your own office computer(s).

Planning to recover from a disaster so you can continue to operate your business is not often high on the list of priorities for businesses.  But this instance about records relating to the CTV building is a good indication of why it is so important to have a recordkeeping system that includes a good backup system.

In the ‘good old days’ before computers and when the only business records were paper records,  letters, reports, meeting minutes etc were typed up in duplicate, sometimes triplicate.  This meant there was always a backup copy (though unfortunately records were still lost from time to time in situations where all the multiple copies were held in the same office).

Today’s equivalent is a paper copy and an electronic copy or two electronic copies each stored in a different place.

There are a number of options to consider for backup electronic storage. You can use CDs, USB sticks, portable hard drives or virtual storage in the ‘cloud’ such as Google Docs, Dropbox.

It doesn’t matter what backup storage system you decide to use, the key thing is that you must actually use it – and regularly.

You don’t have to keep everything – you just need to think about what business information you would need to continue to operate in the event of a disaster of some form hitting your business.

Decide on a backup policy for your vital business information and make sure the policy is followed!

Do this before you get caught out by a flood, fire or earthquake – or even a hard drive failure on your computer.