IBHS Launches Online Continuity Planning Tool for Small Businesses

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The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has launched a free, online version of its popular business continuity planning toolkit, which will guide business owners through a streamlined process to help them quickly recover after a disaster.

OFB-EZ Stay Open For Business
With OFB-EZ, small businesses can follow the same disaster planning and recovery processes used by larger companies – but without a large company budget.

As the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has launched a free, online version of its popular business continuity planning toolkit, OFB-EZ™ (Open For Business-EZ). This streamlined program guides users through an easy process to create a recovery plan that will help even the smallest business recover and re-open quickly after a disaster.

“OFB-EZ Online, our newest tool for small business owners, continues IBHS’ commitment to helping create stronger, safer, more resilient communities,” said Gail Moraton, business resiliency manager, IBHS. “As a web-based program, OFB-EZ offers business owners the convenience and confidence of developing and storing their business plan in a secure, third-party location on IBHS’ Disaster Safety website.”

Hurricane Sandy had a devastating effect on businesses in its path, with anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 small businesses negatively impacted by the storm, according to the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Business Civic Leadership Center. Business continuity planning can make all the difference in a crisis, especially considering that one in four small businesses forced to close during a disaster never re-open.

“A disaster for a small business doesn’t have to be the magnitude of a hurricane,” Moraton added. “A burst water pipe in a storeroom can be a disaster for many small businesses, too. Having a plan in place will enable businesses to act quickly so they can recover as soon as possible.”

“IBHS is funded by property insurers who are very pleased to provide this free program. Small businesses fuel the American economy by providing jobs and spurring economic growth. Insurers believe small business owners will find the new OFB-EZ online toolkit easy to use, administer and implement. With OFB-EZ, small businesses can follow the same disaster planning and recovery processes used by larger companies – but without a large company budget,” said Moraton.

“Users create a password-protected account and then work through the online modules in the toolkit at their convenience. The program saves all of the user’s information on the website for easy access at any time and from any location,” explained Moraton.

OFB-EZ™ Online includes several components, such as:

  •     evaluation checklists to help business users understand their risks;
  •     business continuity best practices and resources;
  •     forms for users to enter and store important contact information for employees, key customers, suppliers, and vendors; and
  •     a tabletop exercise for business owners to conduct with their employees to test their plan.

“When a small business experiences a disruption, whether it is caused by natural, man-made or technological forces, it can be costly, and even result in the business’ permanent closure,” Moraton said. “OFB-EZ Online uses non-technical language to help business owners create an effective business continuity plan so they are able to keep their doors open and return to normal operations as quickly as possible.”

Additional supplements will be added to the program in 2014, including a disaster response checklist, recovery location planning, and a property protection checklist.

To get started, business owners should visit OFB-EZ Online to set up an account. Additional business and disaster preparedness resources are available on IBHS' website.

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About The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)

IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks on residential and commercial property by conducting building science research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparedness practices.

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Stacy Williams, APR
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