New disaster app helps small businesses prepare for the worst
The sprinklers go off by mistake in your office building. A strong wind blows the roof off your lab. You lose all of your computer files in a major crash.
If you own or manage a small business, a disaster such as these could put a major dent in your work and your bottom line.
A new phone app won’t fix these problems, but it could help your business be operating again more quickly and easily.
The Small Business Disaster Plan app is available free for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. It was developed by the North Dakota State University Extension Service and Myriad Mobile, Fargo.
“There are two things that I have heard small-business owners say repeatedly: The first is, they never have enough time. And the second is, ‘Where did I file that?’” says Glenn Muske, NDSU Extension rural and agribusiness enterprise development specialist.
“The NDSU Small Business Disaster Plan app takes on both of those by letting you fill out the basic important disaster plan information you would need, along with supporting photos, right from your smartphone or tablet,” Muske adds. “And you always have it with you, meaning it’s less likely to be one of the items lost if you should experience a disaster at your business. Of course, you should save the information in the cloud, too, in case your phone or tablet is lost.”
The Small Business Disaster Plan app explains what should be included in each section of your business’s plan and lets you enter that information for your business.
The sections are:
• Basic information
• Emergency planning
• Emergency contact
In addition to the educational information provided and text added for your business, the app allows you to take photos of inventory, supplies, computer hardware and similar materials.
Muske says plans should be reviewed annually, so instead of having to remember to dig out the file, the app uses your phone’s alert system to remind you to review the information at a designated time in the future.
The content can be downloaded as a csv file. The app also encourages you to upload the content to a cloud service such as Dropbox, iCloud, Drop or a similar service for backup.
“Planning is never high on anyone’s list,” Muske says. “But think how easy the process is when the structure is there and you just need to fill in the blanks. That’s exactly what the NDSU Small Business Disaster Plan app provides. And because September is National Preparedness Month, it’s a great time to get your business prepared for disasters.”
Bob Bertsch, the NDSU web technology specialist who led work on the app’s content, says, “We used FEMA’s ready.gov information for businesses and the Extension Disaster Education Network’s Ready Business training program to integrate with the functionality of the tablet and smartphone. Yes, there are online templates for business disaster plans, but this app provides portability and functionality.”
Muske says, “This is the app we hope you never need, but chances are you will. By spending some time completing the information in the app, your business will be able to come back quicker and easier after any kind of disaster.”
Development of the Small Business Disaster Plan app for tablets and smartphones was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award 2013-41210-21194.