Helping small businesses prepare for and respond to unexpected circumstances formed the heart of discussions at the May 25 workshop of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Homeland Security Standards Panel (HSSP), Achieving Preparedness through Standards Implementation: Challenges and Opportunities for Small Businesses.
The goal of the workshop was to identify actions needed to better reflect small business considerations with regard to preparedness standards and conformity assessment activities. Fifty-eight attendees representing 42 organizations participated in the day's discussions.
Following a workshop introduction by Marcus Pollock, chief of standards and technology at the National Integration Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), C.E. "Tee" Rowe, president and CEO of the Association of Small Business Development Centers, provided opening remarks outlining the importance of standards to small businesses, particularly in the face of a disaster. Mr. Rowe cited the need for effective communication and outreach to help small business owners better understand standardization as a pathway to preparedness and business recovery. He underscored the importance of considering small businesses from a holistic point of view, adding that disaster preparedness for small businesses should also address the families involved.
To help set the stage for informed panel discussions, Gordon Gillerman, director of the standards services group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Lane Hallenbeck, vice president of accreditation services at ANSI, highlighted key concepts in standardization and the benefits of standards and conformance in driving and sustaining business for small and large enterprises alike.
A panel discussion led by Thomas Anderson, director of corporate and strategic development at Stephenson Disaster Management Institute at Louisiana State University, took a closer look at the unique needs of small business in preparing for emergencies, and the tools currently available to help them.
Workshop participants expressed the concern that standards and third-party certification can sometimes be perceived as overly burdensome for the small business environment. Small businesses are looking to benefit from an easy-to-use business recovery structure and strategies for work interruptions and emergency response.
Bill Raisch, director of the International Center for Enterprise Preparedness (InterCEP) at New York University, led a final panel on how small business are currently using and could enhance their use of assessment tools such as the 9/11 Commission-recommended Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program (PS-Prep), the Red Cross Ready Rating Program, and Open For Business Online in bolstering the supply chain.
All presentations from the May 25 workshop are available in the ANSI-HSSP library. A final report outlining findings and recommendations from the workshop will be published in the coming weeks.
For more information on the work of the ANSI-HSSP, visit www.ansi.org/hssp.