Strong Emergency Management and Business Continuity Plans include employee home preparedness

Resiliency of your Emergency Management and Business Continuity Plans rely on company human resources to ensure that the processes you have put in place are put into action. In any catastrophic event, our natural instinct is to protect ourselves and our family.  In time of crisis, the employee you need on site may not be available because of concerns at home. Alternatively, the employee may be on site for you but the worry about family members at home may interfere with the employee’s ability to fully focus on your needs.

As the first full week of May marks Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada, it’s a good time to think about ensuring your employees are prepared at home in the event that you need them at work to implement your EM and BC plans. What can your employees do to be ready at home in the event you need them to help in a time of crisis? What can you do to help them focus on your needs and ensure that their families are taken care of while they are at work?

Here are just a few ideas to help you prepare your employees in case you need them:

  • Provide information about home emergency preparedness in your plan training and exercise sessions.
  • Create a flyer or webpage with tips to emergency preparedness for your employees.
  • Encourage your employees to create a family emergency plan. Kids love scavenger hunts. What a great way to have your employee make it a fun family activity by challenging their children to hunt around the house to fill their emergency preparedness kit.
  • Include in your EM and BC plans some potential options to ensure the safety and welfare of your employees’ families in the event you need them at work. Knowing their families are safe will benefit both you and your employees by allowing them to focus on your needs without worrying about their family members.

Public Safety Canada has a wealth of information and materials that you can share with employees, including promotional materials, flyers and posters. You can find more information at http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/.

Get prepared! Know the risks, create your family plan and prepare your emergency kit.

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 3 Define your Scope

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #3 Define the scope of the crisis communications plan

If you have conducted a comprehensive risk assessment you will have discovered a large number of risks that could destroy your organization but not physically impact your people, information, equipment or facilities. A corporate crisis communication plan will include these risks and will be invoked much more often than a business continuity or response plan.

If your organization does not have a corporate crisis communication plan, you may want to limit the scope of the crisis communication plan associated with the business continuity management program. Define the set of risks to which it will respond or limit its use to the activation of the emergency operations centre (EOC).

Begin planning crisis communication early in your program as an independent project. The risk evaluation and Business Impact Analysis should be designed to provide information for the crisis communication plan.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 2 engage corporate communications

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavor.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #2  Corporate communications must be involved in crisis communication planning

Corporate communications is to crisis communications planning what Information Technology is to disaster recovery planning. Exclude them at your peril.  A strong communications team may want to lead the initiative. The business continuity professional can provide timelines, guidance, auditing and exercise opportunities. Ensure that the crisis communication plan covers the four key communication lines: internal, external, media and stakeholders.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 1 evaluate your current state

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #1 Understand the current state of crisis communications within your organization

Research past crises. Determine if an informal or formal crisis communication plan exists and who is managing it. Make the most of your limited resources by formalizing and leveraging existing crisis communications plans.  A gap analysis will expose areas that need improvement.

J&P 005

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 ways to improve Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance – tip 10 maintenance plan

Your organization has now invested valuable time and money developing business continuity plans. As a professional business continuity planner, you know that the next steps – exercising, auditing and maintaining the business continuity plans – are all important to successful resilience in the event of a disaster. In this article, I will provide 10 tips to advance your business continuity plan exercise, audit and maintenance program.

MAINTENANCE PLAN

If a proper maintenance plan is not in place, your plans could become outdated quickly.

Tip #10 Arrange to review and update the plan just prior to audits and annual exercises

If the results of the exercise and audit are given the appropriate attention by the organization, those involved in the plan will be motivated to prepare for these events by updating business process information.

If you schedule one minor exercise per business section, an annual major exercise and an annual audit, it translates into three major updates of the plan per year. Add in some method of determining turnover in key business continuity roles and your plan will continue to be relevant year after year. One simple suggestion is a monthly business continuity plan e-mail newsletter sent to everyone named in the plans. When an e-mail bounces back, you should follow-up with your other contacts in the unit for a staffing update.  When other colleagues find themselves in a new role, they will often contact you to redirect the newsletter.

Also try to work with your organization’s Project Management Office and other change managers to play an advisory role in meeting the organization’s business continuity standards before new projects “go live”. The upfront time investment is much less when compared to working on plans and strategies after the project is operational.

Following these ten manageable tips will have a constructive impact on your business continuity plan exercise, audit and maintenance programs. Please speak with us for further information on any of these ideas.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Eight – Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 ways to improve Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance – tip 9 Audit

Your organization has now invested valuable time and money developing business continuity plans. As a professional business continuity planner, you know that the next steps – exercising, auditing and maintaining the business continuity plans – are all important to successful resilience in the event of a disaster. In this article, I will provide 10 tips to advance your business continuity plan exercise, audit and maintenance program.

AUDIT

Tip #9 Arrange an Audit

An audit in the private sector can be powerful for obtaining senior management support for business continuity upkeep and improvement. Executives are familiar with the audit process and are likely to see the merit in the recommendations of an auditor. You can also successfully argue that an audit should be presented by the sponsor to the Board of Directors.

Audits can also be high-profile in public sector organizations. Some have mandatory audits. Your department may post the results publicly, or details of any audit may be requested through Access to Information legislation. Certainly any audit could receive media scrutiny. It is vital that you prepare well in advance for the assessment, given its overall importance.

Understanding what the auditors or reviewers are looking for will help the audit run smoothly. It will also help you to enrich the business continuity management program in your organization in the process. Ideally, the plan should be audited by an independent auditor to ensure objectivity. During the engagement process, you should review plan expectations with the auditor and determine what set of standards will be used. Together with the auditor, you should set audit objectives and scope, and assess and select the audit method. The audit process should examine the administrative aspects of the BCM process, the plan’s structure, contents and actions sections, and the plan’s documentation control procedures. An audit should be conducted at least annually.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Eight – Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 ways to improve Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance – tip 8 hotwash

Your organization has now invested valuable time and money developing business continuity plans. As a professional business continuity planner, you know that the next steps – exercising, auditing and maintaining the business continuity plans – are all important to successful resilience in the event of a disaster. In this article, I will provide 10 tips to advance your business continuity plan exercise, audit and maintenance program.

Tip # 8 Debrief the participants after a short break

At the conclusion of the exercise scenario, it is always good to allow the exercise participants a short break before proceeding with the exercise debrief. This allows for time needed to get minds and thoughts out of the exercise scenario and focused back in the ‘real’ world.

The purpose of the exercise debrief is to seek feedback regarding:

  • What was learned during initial incident response?
  • What was learned during the operational relocation, restart and recovery?
  • Feedback from observers:
  1. What happened?
  2. What went well?
  3. What could we improve?
  • What have you learned about exercising?
  • What are the next steps?

Get this information while it is fresh in the minds of participants. You should also follow-up the next day. People will have valuable things to add after a night’s sleep.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Eight – Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 ways to improve Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance – tip 7 research injects

Your organization has now invested valuable time and money developing business continuity plans. As a professional business continuity planner, you know that the next steps – exercising, auditing and maintaining the business continuity plans – are all important to successful resilience in the event of a disaster. In this article, I will provide 10 tips to advance your business continuity plan exercise, audit and maintenance program.

Tip # 7 Prepare well researched problem sets or injects

Create injects (a set of problems or complications) that the team may encounter as the scenario plays out. They can be used to create realism or to guarantee certain areas of the plan are tested. If the team seems well prepared to handle the initial complexity of the scenario, injects can create a more challenging exercise. They can also be used to bring the exercise back on track if it seems to be slipping. Have a few extra up your sleeve and use as necessary.

There is no substitute for thorough research prior to the event. Reference material may be required wherever you introduce any aspect of a scenario that may be challenged. If the scenario includes responding to damage caused by a letter bomb, you must be prepared with an authoritative response to any number of questions, including how the bomb was prepared and delivered and the extent of the damage it would have caused. Without an appropriate response, you will lose the attention and support of participants. A good exercise script will also require thorough research on the language and terminology to be used in any given scenario.

You may need to develop checklists, along with reference materials, to support the script. Checklists are a convenient way of collecting data in order to avoid relying on memory alone to cover each detail of the exercise.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Eight – Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 ways to improve Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance – tip 6 create realism

Your organization has now invested valuable time and money developing business continuity plans. As a professional business continuity planner, you know that the next steps – exercising, auditing and maintaining the business continuity plans – are all important to successful resilience in the event of a disaster. In this article, I will provide 10 tips to advance your business continuity plan exercise, audit and maintenance program.

Tip # 6 Create Realism for the Participants

Realism can make a positive lasting impression on the participants increasing their knowledge retention as well as your credibility. Add authenticity by creating news broadcasts, radio weather warnings, or video footage. Be imaginative in injecting details through actual telephone calls or e-mails, or even an interactive web portal. Hold mock interviews with journalists, emergency services personnel, suppliers, customers or other interested parties. Realistic details will make things easier and more relevant to your teams.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Eight – Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 ways to improve Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance – tip 5 credible scenario

Your organization has now invested valuable time and money developing business continuity plans. As a professional business continuity planner, you know that the next steps – exercising, auditing and maintaining the business continuity plans – are all important to successful resilience in the event of a disaster. In this article, I will provide 10 tips to advance your business continuity plan exercise, audit and maintenance program.

Tip # 5: Choose a scenario that is stimulating and vivid, yet credible

The scenario needs to explore the exercise objectives and to engage your people. Begin by reviewing your threat and risk assessment and choose a scenario that has a medium to high probability of occurring. If you choose an implausible event such as a meteor impact you will lose credibility and team discussions may centre on the unlikelihood of the event versus realizing the objectives of the exercise.

Like any action-packed Hollywood blockbuster, an exciting scenario will draw the participants in. In order to create a challenging exercise for the crisis communication team, the story should be one that the media would pick up on. However, the scenario should not be overwhelming and should not contain obscure or technical implications which might confuse the team or open the way for you to lose control or credibility. It should set up a challenge which is likely to stretch the team’s capabilities.

You might want to create your own database of possible scenarios. Research famous events or track unique current incidents. Take note of reported details and understand the effects on the organization, so that you can incorporate realistic details.  Follow the story over several days and note how the organization responded.

Finally, do not forget to use both your reason and imagination in developing the plot of the exercise.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Eight – Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

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