Tag Archives: planning

Inclement Weather: Employee and Business Safety Planning

Photo of a man wearing a hat and parka, sitting at a desk in a snowstorm.One of my favorite short courses in the AIM curriculum is Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning, which covers the steps necessary to protect yourself and your business from potential outages due to natural or technological disasters. I have previously written about the necessities of such planning. With the official start of winter just weeks away, I want to highlight safety planning for weather hazards that may not throw your business into disarray but could certainly provide a temporary hazard for employees. The good news is that there are ways to mitigate such disruptions and keep workers safe.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Here in the Pacific Northwest winter flooding is always a possibility and we do get occasional snow and ice storms. A couple of years ago a river that had breached its banks and was flowing across the road blocked one access road to my home. While this was a minor inconvenience for me, think about how this might affect employees trying to get to or home from work. A recent Business Journal article highlighted a basic weather office safety plan that included documenting inclement weather scenarios. How would your business answer these questions:

  • If a storm prevented at least half of our employees from coming to work, could we still operate?
  • Do we have a way to notify employees to stay home in the event of an emergency?
  • How do we determine what constitutes a hazard that would limit or shut down the business?
  • What if a weather event strikes while employees are at work and they cannot get home? Do we have a plan for temporary housing, even for one night?
  • How many employees have the ability to work from home and can they effectively do so?

While continuing business operations is important, it is even more important to protect the safety of employees.

The Best Laid Plans

The key to effective employee safety is planning and communications. If you are making plans to deal with bad weather it is best to do it in the heat of the summer, well before any snow, ice, or rain. As part of the safety/communications plans consider:

  • At what point will we decide to shut down the business?
  • How will we communicate that to employees?
  • Does everyone know our method of communication?
  • How can we help employees develop their own safety plan?
  • Do we have supplies on hand to take care of employees temporarily?
  • Can technology help us operate without asking employees to travel?

This takes input and coordination from several departments including HR, information technology, and communications. We may take it for granted that someone is thinking and planning for this, but often no one does. Make sure a safety plan and structures are in place and then rehearse that plan at least once a year. A plan buried deep in a notebook or file is the same as no plan at all.


I think it has become a cliché to say that employees are the most important asset, but it is definitely true. Without workers business stops, so it is prudent to think of employees first. Does your business have a safety plan? Do you have a personal plan for you and your family?

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

All In The Preparation

Photograph of hiking and camping equipment.Last week I went backpacking in the high Cascades of Washington state. As I hiked I thought about the preparations I made to get to this beautiful place and how they helped me enjoy the moment. I had prepared physically and mentally and I had brought the right gear. At the end of the day, however, I realized that I brought too much food and my legs were very tired by the time I got back to the trailhead. In one instance I prepared too much and in another I did not prepare enough. In this post I will focus on the value of proper preparation for everyday activities and for life.

On The Run

A number of years ago I ran the Portland Marathon for the first time. I prepared by running smaller distances such as five and ten kilometers but I did not know how long a marathon would take. I had a goal of finishing in four hours or less. I came in at four hours and twenty minutes. In contrast, world-class athletes run it in two hours and fifteen minutes. In other words, they had finished, gone home, eaten lunch and taken a nap by the time I finished. I ran it again the next year just to see if I could meet my original goal. That year I came in at four hours and ten minutes and that is the last time I ran marathon. While I was prepared to finish the race I was not committed enough to put in the preparation necessary to meet my goal.

Business Continuity

In our Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning short course we talk a lot about preparing for a possible business interruption or disaster. Each business needs to understand their tolerance for risk and how prepared they need to be. A hospital, for example, needs to be prepared for any risk since lives might be in danger in a disaster. By contrast, a taco stand only risks losing a small amount of revenue in the event of a disruption so the continuity preparation is not as great. There are different levels of preparation and it is important to understand what level is needed in various scenarios.

For Life

One of the goals of the AIM program is to prepare students to meet the challenges of tomorrow, next year, and for life. Our curriculum is broad, but also deep in areas in which students need experience to perform their daily tasks and work with others to accomplish their goals. AIM students are preparing now for future challenges and opportunities.


In reflecting on these ideas I have come to realize that there are degrees of preparation and I need to understand how much is needed and how much I am willing to invest. Sometimes I prepare too little and expect a different outcome and sometimes I prepare too much and end up having to carry a heavier pack. Are you prepared enough for opportunities coming your way? Is there anything more you need to add to make sure you are ready? Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.


shutterstock_155422796As we prepared for summer graduation in the AIM Program, I was thinking about new beginnings. Our graduates now have a new degree in hand and the potential for a new beginning in their careers and in their lives. I believe that it is never too late to take on a new adventure and work to realize your full potential. As you read this blog post, I encourage you to examine your life and see if there is still something that you want to do to grow and stretch. If there is, then I challenge you to start the process now.


Examples of new beginnings could be a new job, a new college degree, retirement, moving to a new city, or the birth of a baby. All of these things move us out of our comfort zone and push us to do things differently. Often we talk ourselves out of starting the journey because we think that we are too old or maybe don’t have enough money or we have always done it the other way or we worry about what others would think. Take a hard look at each of the barriers that you have placed in your way to see if they are legitimate or if you can get past them and move on to your own new beginning.

A Plan

The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu once said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” An important aspect of creating your own plan is identifying that first step to a new beginning. This summer I decided to do the Seattle-to-Portland (STP) bike ride again after a gap of twenty-five years. STP is essentially back-to-back century rides, or you can do all 203 miles in one day if you are strong enough and fast enough, which I am not. As part of my plan, I had to make sure I could still complete one century and I found that I could do that. I learned by riding the STP that I could have a new beginning and finish strong. I dubbed this my “comeback tour.” Even more important to me were the stories that I heard from other riders. This was a new beginning for many of them and was often instigated by an illness or an urgent need to make a lifestyle change. Some were riding the STP for the first time and some for the twentieth. They all made the decision to change, and they all crafted and executed their plan.


If you have put off starting your new beginning, I challenge you to start today. Whether it is going back to school or making a lifestyle change, now is the time. The barriers may seem high but if you start with that single step it can lead to a lifelong journey. Have you recently started a new beginning? Tell me about it.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at nigh

Plan To Get Back To Business Fast After A Disaster

Broken phone, notebook and glasses, in the dirt and covered in dustThis week I want to write about something that you are probably not thinking about in these lazy days of summer: disaster recovery planning (DRP). Last time I checked disasters do not follow the calendar, weather related hazards aside. They can happen anytime, even when you are on vacation and not thinking about work. If a disaster were to strike your business, do you have a plan in place and does everyone know how to execute it? If not, this is a tickler to make that a priority. Here are some tips on how to build a plan and keep it current.


First of all, you need to understand your most important business processes. This is an exercise not only for IT, but also for finance and accounting, marketing, manufacturing, and operations. In the event of a disaster, many people would argue that payroll should be restored first. Others would argue that customer facing processes should come first. Finally, others would argue that manufacturing should come first since without active inventory there is nothing to sell to the customers and therefore no revenue to fund the paychecks. Each business is different but the key is to decide what processes should be recovered first, second, and third, and everyone should be in agreement.

Drafting the Plan

Just as important as deciding the sequence of process recovery is writing and publishing the plan. What components go into a good plan? I recently came across a template that will help you draft your first plan or help you validate your current plan to make sure that you have all of the components necessary. It is important to get a peer review on this document to make sure that all agree on the necessary steps to recovery.

Regular Review

Once drafted and written, don’t let your plan become “shelfware,” never to see the light of day again. It is important that this document be reviewed on a regular basis. Your organization is dynamic and this document needs to reflect that. I have found that it is best to tie this review to other regular updates in your business. For example, when you are budgeting for the next fiscal year, why not review the DR to see what has changed in the last year or the last six months? What is about to change based on your proposed budget? Be proactive with the DR plan.


A disaster recovery plan is one component of a good business continuity plan. It outlines the first steps of how you are going to operate your business for a prolonged period while recovering from an outage, whether due to a storm or your customer-facing web page going offline. It is important to think carefully about how you are going to come back from that adversity. The worst time to develop a plan is in the middle of a disaster.

Take a minute this summer to review your plan with your team. When disaster strikes, you will be glad you did.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at nigh