The business continuity management lifecycle begins long before an incident. It starts with pre-incident planning, which includes mitigation and preparation. Here are six key steps to prepare for and recover from disasters and critical incidents.
1. Mitigate Risk
Preparing your business to respond to unexpected events requires proactive planning. Identify, understand and prioritize business continuity risks, and develop response plans and mitigation plans. Mitigation includes proactively reducing the likelihood of an event, and reducing the impact of an event if it does occur.
Until we train natural disasters and other disruptive events to give advanced notice, you’ll need to respond quickly and effectively.
Communications during disruptive events are critical to ensuring continuation of your business. You never know where key people will be when an event happens, so your communications have to be powerful and flexible, with several key features.
- Mobile: Enable people to send or receive critical notifications immediately.
- Multi-channel: Besides email, text and voice, use recorded voice, push notifications and even pager and fax.
- Customizable: Integrate with your org chart and using each individual’s schedule and device preference.
- Targeted: People get overwhelmed during major events. Target notifications to alleviate alert fatigue.
Communications during the Response Phase are critical, and response teams should define the most appropriate protective action for each hazard to ensure the safety of employees.
Plans should also document how to warn building occupants to take protective action during disruptive events. The communications process during and after an emergency should include protocols and procedures to alert first responders, including public emergency services, trained employees and management. Response team must ascertain employee wellness and provide status on issues and keep management informed of new developments. A leading communications platform can enable these steps with a single click on a mobile device.
A communications plan is essential for ensuring that responders can communicate with each other. Communication equipment, procedures, and systems must be interoperable. Develop an integrated voice and data communications system, including equipment, systems and protocols prior to an incident.
Customers, employees, regulators, vendors, suppliers, shareholders, police and fire, and people not directly aiding the recovery effort must be kept apprised of the current situation, progress being made, impediments or delays to the recovery effort, and other pertinent information.
How you communicate about crises can seriously impact how the public, the media, customers and regulators perceive your company. When the company is ready to resume normal business operations, communications must be sent that detail anticipated times of reopening impacted buildings.
Social media, around-the-clock news and other instantaneous methods of communication have made communicating clearly and concisely with employees, customers and business partners particularly important. Communication channels could include social media, blast text messaging, blast phone calls, 800 numbers, and company websites.
Communicate with suppliers and vendors and ask for their flexibility and understanding after a disaster occurs. They may provide critical machinery or software, or be willing to establish alternative billing or delivery options until your business is back on its feet. Establish regular communication with government agencies and regulatory authorities to obtain approvals for resuming occupancy of the building or to reconstruct the facility.
Incident management begins not with an incident but long before. Your preparation will directly impact the seriousness of the incident when it occurs. Make no mistake: Regardless of your preparation, incidents will happen. From data breaches to building fires, they happen every day.
Be prepared, and automate time-consuming activities like finding on-call employees and setting up escalation procedures throughout the business continuity management lifecycle. The time you save could also save your company, your job and sometimes lives.