Effective Property Management and Crisis Preparedness

As Asset Managers, we must be sure that we are ready to react to crises as they arise. Whether it may be an earthquake, fire, flood, or swine flu Asset Managers must have a property management plan in place to help mitigate, manage, and recover from a disaster scenario.

Many organizations have an organized Incident Management Team in place specifically to address disaster scenarios. This team is usually made up of representatives from departments like Security, Legal, Safety, Human Resources, and Finance, and while the members of the team may vary depending on your organization, the top priority remains the same: to predict and respond to disaster scenarios by establishing an effective and efficient set of response procedures. In the event of an emergency these pre-set processes prevent a reactionary response and instead encourage a more proactive stance to the situation at hand.

If your organization has some type of incident management team it is vital that the Asset Manager be involved. The role of an Asset Manager will differ depending on the crisis.  For example, if there is a fire the Asset Manager’s role would come into play after the event and the fire fighters are gone.  Asset Managers would need to identify what property was involved in the fire, who owned the property, and if there are assets available elsewhere that could be used to support the affected work area.  If the crisis is a pandemic, prior to event, Asset Managers should work with various other functional areas to determine how best to ensure downtime is minimized.

In any crisis, minimizing down time is important to your organization; therefore, getting the business back up and running as soon as possible is cost effective.  To prepare for a crisis we should ask “what if” questions.  What if there was a flood or blackout?  Determine how the crisis would affect your organization and what information would management need to address the issues.  You should then create a plan, so in the event a crisis comes up you can refer back to the plan for assistance.

Typically, Asset Managers can provide vital data to the other functions throughout an organization to assist in management decisions (this goes well beyond just crisis preparedness).  For example, we may need to provide listings of the property that was located in the affected building(s).  This information would be beneficial to the IT personnel so they have an idea what equipment may need to get replaced.  It would also assist Legal when dealing with insurance companies.

After the event, we may be asked to work with insurance companies and adjustors to identify and separate out the damaged property.  Depending on the owner of the property, we may also need to report the damage to the appropriate owner.

It is impossible to be prepared for every type of crisis; however, being as prepared as possible in advance and having processes in place is key to developing a plan and being an effective Asset Manager.

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