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Business Planning

A risk assessment is a process to identify potential hazards and analyze what could happen if a hazard occurs. Businesses can do much to prepare for the impact of the many hazards they face in today’s world including natural hazards like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and widespread serious illness such as the H1N1 flu virus pandemic. Human-caused hazards include accidents, acts of violence by people, and acts of terrorism. Examples of technology-related hazards are the failure or malfunction of systems, equipment, or software.

Severe weather is a high risk here in North Texas.  Thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding, and winter weather affect our community every year.  The risk of man-made disasters such as fire, hazardous material incidents, and terrorism is also very real.  www.knowhat2do.com

It is vital to know your risks and plan for the emergency.  Some plans can cover several risk factors but others may require a unique response you must prepare differently for. Completing a risk assessment is the first step in preparing your business for an emergency.  The assessment should cover three areas:
  1. Risks – What are the risks to be considered and prepared for?
  2. Human Resources – Employees, Customers, Others on site
  3. Physical Resources – Building, Equipment, Technology
You can begin by asking some very simple questions about your business.  A risk assessment table will assist you in identifying impacts to personnel, equipment and inventory assets, property, and technology systems.     


A business impact analysis (BIA) is the process for determining the potential impacts resulting from the interruption of time sensitive or critical business processes. The BIA should identify the operational and financial impacts resulting from the disruption of business functions and processes. Impacts to consider include:
  • Lost sales and income
  • Delayed sales or income
  • Increased expenses (e.g., overtime labor, outsourcing, expediting costs, etc.)
  • Regulatory fines
  • Contractual penalties or loss of contractual bonuses
  • Customer dissatisfaction or defection
  • Delay of new business plans
Use a BIA to survey managers and other employees with detailed knowledge of business operations in each area within the business. The information gathered will identify the critical business processes and resources needed for the business to continue to function at different levels.  Next step: Business Continuity Planning!


  • Business Emergency Planning
    How quickly your company can get back to business after a terrorist attack or tornado, a fire or flood often depends on emergency planning done today.  Though each situation is unique, any organization can be better prepared if it plans carefully, puts emergency procedures in place, and practices for all kinds of emergencies.

    Once potential risks and hazards have been assessed, planning on how to respond is next.  Emergency planning will include processes and procedures for assigning roles and responsibilities of employees, deciding to evacuate or shelter in place, and designating escape routes and safe rooms.

    Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the disaster, the first important decision after an incident occurs is whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities in advance by developing clear, well thought out plans. If you are specifically told by local authorities to evacuate, shelter-in-place, or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

    Some disasters will require employees to leave the workplace quickly. The ability to evacuate workers, customers and visitors effectively can save lives. If feasible, develop a system for knowing who is in your building, including customers and visitors. If you have employees with disabilities ask them what assistance, if any, they requires. Decide in advance who has the authority to order an evacuation. Identify who will shut down critical operations and lock the doors, if possible. Create a chain of command so that others are authorized to act in case your designated person is not available.

    Plan two ways out of the building from different locations throughout your facility. Post maps with emergency routes clearly marked for quick reference by employees. Designate an assembly site. Pick one location near your facility and another in the general area in case you have to move farther away. Try to account for all workers, visitors and customers as people arrive at the assembly site. Determine who is responsible for providing an all-clear or return-to-work notification.

    There may be situations when it’s best to stay where you are to avoid any uncertainty outside. There are other circumstances, such as a chemical incident or during a tornado when specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival. Determine where you will take shelter during an emergency. Go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible of a building. Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris. Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.

    The right emergency supplies are a vital component to any emergency plan. Think first about the basics of survival: water, food, clean air, and warmth. Talk to co-workers about building portable kits to meet individual needs such as medications. 

    Just as your business changes over time, so do your preparedness needs. When you hire new employees or when there are changes in how your company functions, you should update your plans and inform your people.  As a best practice, your emergency plan should be reviewed annually and updated as needed.
  • Practice
    Go beyond planning and frequently practice what you intend to do during a disaster. Conduct regularly scheduled education and training seminars to provide co-workers with information, identify needs and develop preparedness skills. Include disaster training in new employee orientation programs and keep all employees informed by including safety topics in your training schedule and staff meetings. Drills and exercises will help you prepare.
  • Business Continuity
    Assessing the potential risks your business could face and planning for those events are major steps towards ensuring your business will recover from a disaster incident. Additional measures can be taken to help keep a business running during an emergency event and improve long-term operations. Similar to conducting a risk assessment, a resource assessment can be performed specifically for recovery and continuity.

    First, carefully assess how your company functions, both internally and externally, to determine which staff, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep the business operating. Start by reviewing your business process flow chart, if one exists, to identify operations critical to survival and recovery. Include emergency payroll, expedited financial decision-making and accounting systems to track and document costs in the event of a disaster.

    Identify what production machinery, computers, custom parts or other essential equipment is needed to keep the business open. Plan how to replace or repair vital equipment if it is damaged or destroyed. Identify more than one supplier who can replace or repair your equipment. Store extra supplies, materials and equipment for use in an emergency.

    Second, identify essential personnel and decide who should participate in putting together your emergency plan. Consider a broad cross-section of people from throughout your organization, but focus on those with expertise vital to daily business functions.

    Next, carefully examine which utilities are vital to your business’s day-to-day operation. Businesses are often dependent on electricity, gas, telecommunications, sewer and other utilities. Keep a list of your service providers and plan ahead for extended disruptions during and after a disaster. Also, identify key suppliers, shippers, resources and other businesses you must interact with on a daily basis. Develop professional relationships with more than one company in case your primary contractor cannot service your needs. A disaster that shuts down a key supplier can be devastating to your business. These key resources are essential to your on-going operations.

    Finally, keep all of the gathered information and copies of important records such as site maps, building plans, insurance policies, employee contact and identification information, bank account records, supplier and shipping contact lists, computer backups, emergency or law enforcement contact information and other priority documents in a waterproof, fireproof portable container. Store a second set of records at an off-site location. A business continuity plan will help plan a business’s future and give the business a better chance of survival.


    Business Continuity Booklet