Manage for Success: Contingency Planning, Newsletter 42, October 2004

"Manage for Success" is a free monthly newsletter for record label executives who want to operate their companies efficiently and successfully, and who have indicated their desire to receive it. It's published by Keith Holzman of Solutions Unlimited, a management consultant, troubleshooter, and trusted advisor, and is based on his many years as a senior executive in the music industry.

Copyright 2004 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.

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All too often thriving businesses -- and this includes record labels -- coast along their merry way until some major catastrophe happens and the s--t hits the fan.

Such catastrophes include, but are not limited to, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, floods, terror attacks, civil unrest such as the L.A. riots, severe winter storms, serious staff illness -- anything that puts your business in peril, even if only temporary. Less major, but equally disruptive events can include power grid failure, poor weather, computer failure due to viruses and their ilk, and even divorce.

Is your business properly prepared to survive such calamities? Do you have a contingency or emergency plan that can be activated at a moment's notice? If your answer is NO, then you should prepare for such an event now, while things are going well. Don't wait until you're in trouble. Your job is to anticipate such events and be prepared to do the best you can to stay in business until things return to normal.

There are many web sites that deal with contingency or emergency planning, and quite a few books as well. In this newsletter I'll suggest a few fairly simple ways that you can prepare to protect your own business.

The first thing to do is analyze how your label functions, internally and externally. What primary business functions are absolutely necessary in order to stay alive? Which key staff members are most essential in an emergency? Which suppliers are critical? Try to establish backups in the event one or more won't be able to function during an emergency.

Do you have an alternate location in your own city, or in another city, which can be used as a backup until the emergency is over?

 

Business continuity. Think about what you have to do to stay in business when an emergency occurs. Have an alternate location in mind, such as a hotel or even someone's home that might be near your customary place of business. Arrange to have key personnel bring in their company-owned laptops should they exist, and have contingency Ethernet hubs and cabling, extension cords, etc. available so you can keep working until you can get back into your office. Copies of key operating, financial, and personnel records should be maintained at an alternate location, such as an accessible but secure bank, or even the CEO, COO or CFO's home.

Communications. Figure out how to notify your staff -- either by phone, email, car, pony express, or smoke signals -- so they'll know whether to come into the office should things happen at night or on a weekend. Be sure you've got home phone and cell phone numbers plus email addresses for each employee and that department heads have them available at all times. A notification call tree should be established so that as many people as possible can be contacted in the shortest period of time.

Designate an out-of-town phone number where employees can leave an "I'm Okay" message in a catastrophic disaster.

 

Secure your facilities. You should have a burglar alarm system installed and be sure it's activated whenever staff leaves the premises. In conjunction with such a system, it's a good idea to have fire detection equipment installed and operating. Such installations are commonly done at the same time

Emergency supply kits should be stored at the office should an event occur during business hours, but backups might also be maintained in the same location where the significant files are secured. Such kits should contain survival necessities such as water, food, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, blankets, first aid kits, and even dust masks.

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Do you need help devising your contingency plan, or solving any another management or administrative problem that's causing distress to your label? Let me help you. I've been doing it for many years and have assisted many clients in straightening out their businesses.

We'll discuss your unique circumstances and put together a solution that works for you. Join other like-minded professionals ranging from small one or two man labels, to medium size companies, to large multi-national conglomerates, who've already called on me for assistance.

I also recommend my new book, "The Complete Guide To Starting A Record Company" which can be ordered as a downloadable eBook (in Adobe Acrobat® PDF form) at $29.95, or as a printed, spiral-bound book at $44.95. You can read the complete Table of Contents and download the Introduction for free at              <http://www.recordcompanystartup.com/>.

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Review your insurance coverage. Be sure your business is protected for loss or impairment of key equipment such as computers and office machines, and even more important -- for interruption of the business due to a calamitous event.

Improve cyber security. Be sure your computers, servers, and local network are protected from external attacks, such as viruses, worms, and denial of service attacks. You should have a comprehensive system for backing up all individual machines and any servers. Complete and comprehensive backups should be done at least once a week, with incremental backups done every night. Software exists that takes care of this almost automatically, but you must be sure that the responsible employees are taking care of it and are moving the last backup to a predetermined secure location off site. Have duplicate backups of key files stored in an off-site location, even if that means they're in another region or city.

Keep your virus protection software up to date and also be sure you have a firewall in place and that it's activated.

Protect your intellectual property. Be sure master tapes are moved to a secure, environmentally protected, off-site location as soon as you no longer need them instantly available.

Plan and drill for fire emergencies. Know where your fire extinguishers are and be sure that they're maintained and fully charged. Be sure you have established procedures so your staff knows their responsibilities if a fire occurs during business hours, what they're supposed to do, where they should go, and how they'll find out when they can safely return to your office.

Prepare for medical emergencies. Be sure that at least a couple of employees are trained in first aid procedures and CPR. Such training is usually available through the Red Cross or perhaps even your local fire station.

Be sure whoever handles incoming mail is properly trained to recognize suspicious mail. Such information is available at http://www.ready.gov.

Practice the plan. Be sure you have occasional drills so staff becomes familiar with procedures in the event of an incident.

When an unexpected event occurs, it's essential that the head of the label, or the most senior person present, take charge immediately and supervise fulfillment of the emergency plan..

In short, do whatever it is you might have to do in order to stay in alive and in business.

Until next month,

Keith Holzman -- Solutions Unlimited

Helping Record Labels Manage for Success.

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Copyright 2004 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.