Business Continuity Experts Urge Vigilance, Planning
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Two business continuity experts say the high-profile nature of trucking, the critical role that it plays in the economy and keeping the supply chain moving are reasons why fleet owners and managers need to have in place plans to keep operating in the event of an emergency.
In an interview for a special edition of Transport Topics Newsmakers, set for release in two parts on March 28 and March 31, Covenant Park Integrated Initiatives consultant Dean Gallup and Barnes & Thornburg Partner Scott Godes discuss some of the things companies should be preparing for in the event business operations are disrupted.
“Disasters, floods, hurricanes, those type of things are going to disrupt your business,” Gallup said. “Supply chain risks are a big part of business continuity risks. You are the supply chain. Businesses rely on trucking to make the deliveries to them.”
But Gallup says another risk to the trucking industry is the generally poor condition of many of the nation’s roads, highways and bridges, which can cause long delays in moving products. He says while those problems often do not result in complete shutdowns, they do make operations more time consuming and in many cases, more expensive.
“There is infrastructure that in a lot of areas needs updating,” Gallup said. “Some of these bridges and roads just cannot handle the climate-related events and that is going to cause issues. Climate change is becoming a big issue. Unfortunately it is becoming political, but for businesses it’s something that really needs to be considered. Things are changing and we’re not in the same weather environment we were in 20 years ago.”
Gallup says too many industries, including trucking, are not prepared and do not have business interruption plans in place. Often, he says it’s because company officials believe they have to have extensive, minute-by-minute plans in place. He is a big believer in keeping things as simple as possible.
“It costs money, there is an expense involved, but no one really understands it and you look online and you see these 97-page plans and it scares people,” Gallup said. “But business continuity plans are really an insurance policy and it provides the ability to recover your business in an effective manner, rather than trying to do it as you’re going along.
So what does he recommend?
“You have to figure out what’s critical. But there are things that if they don’t occur, your business doesn’t operate,” Gallup says. “Trucking companies have scheduling systems and if that goes down, you’re not operating. You have to find out what those critical three or four mission-critical functions are. Then, figure out what you have to do to protect them. What type of platform is your scheduling or dispatching system on, do you have backup support and in a separate location? Business continuity plans do not need to be these 150-, 200-page binders that sit on shelves. They can be three or four pages that figure out what is truly critical. You can save your business if you concentrate on those two or three things.”
Godes specializes in cyber-related losses and helping companies plan for internet interruptions. He says criminals have become more sophisticated and routinely try to damage small businesses because, all too often, they are easy targets.
“The biggest issues in cybersecurity now are ransomware issues, where you can’t get into your system until you pay the ransom, and the other issue is having your business email systems compromised.”
Godes says while high-profile cases such as the 2021 Colonial Pipeline story get a lot of attention, dozens of smaller cases are occurring every day and trucking companies and other transportation businesses need to take steps to avoid being victimized.
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“There is insurance available for these type of cases,” Godes said. “These policies have been on the market for a long time, but they are not standardized. These policies vary. So, ask your insurance agent, ‘Are we covered if we decide to pay the ransomware? Does it include the cost, if that’s the path we go, and does it include the extra expenses related to that?’ ”
Godes says when it comes to email phishing attacks, a company’s employees are the first line of defense.
“So many cyberattacks involved someone who clicks a bad link and ultimately the human factor is the place where these things get started,” Godes said. “It all comes down to training and awareness.”
Gallup agrees with Godes about the importance of shoring up a company’s cybersecurity.
“Cybersecurity is very important,” Gallup said. “So much of our economy is information based.”