Business Continuity Teams and Partnerships for Success

This information is from my new book, The Ultimate Business Continuity Success Guide: How to Build Real-World Resilience and Unleash Exciting New Value Streams. Happily it is now Amazon’s #1 searched business continuity book. I hope you enjoy the chapter. and the book.

Business Continuity Teams and Partnerships for Success

To achieve real-world resilience, you must build strong and well-coordinated teams. Teams must meet and test often to be ready. A culture of resilience is critical to be truly prepared for disruptive events.

The Crisis Management Team is critical as it is tasked with managing a crisis from start to finish. It includes the Incident Command Team, Emergency Operations Team, Crisis Strike Teams and specialized sub-teams. Crisis Management capabilities and training should be part of your program as early as possible at every location. Both employee safety and continuity of operations depends on it.

The crisis management team structure and process I favor in the business world, is based on The National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) but it has been optimized to align with business processes and structure.

If you are interested in learning more about NIMS in detail here is a link to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) Forms Booklet. It  is located on the FEMA site. The NIMS booklet contains many templates you can leverage for your program.

Incident Command Team (ICT):

This team consists of key people that will provide information to the Incident Commander. There is no hard and fast rule as to who must be included on the ICT, but they should provide value during minute zero and beyond. As I mentioned, you need an ICT in place at every location as soon as possible. Employee safety, location assessment, systems availability are all in scope for the ICT.

Drill the ICT on a regular basis. These professionals must be practiced, confident and ready to react ‘on a dime’. They must be a well-oiled machine. Everything starts with the ICT collecting valuable data and turning it into insight. This team makes important decisions.

Below are suggestions for ICT members (add or delete to customize for your company and locations):

  • Security
  • Safety
  • Facilities
  • IT
  • HR
  • Operations
  • Trading
  • Customer Service
  • BC
  • Warehouse
  • Finance
  • Logistics

Emergency Operations Team (EOT):

This team consists of process owners (department managers) and alternates. This team will provide information to and get information from the Incident Commander (Site Leader in some organizations) and will communicate information back to their process staff. This is a key team in the decision-making process. These people know the business and must be part of the discussion.

For example, if a disaster is declared and people must recover to an alternate recovery site, members of this team will coordinate with the staff to make it happen.

Tip – Make sure you can communicate and reach every member of the EOT.  It is important to regularly review contact lists and encourage team members to provide multiple contact devices they can be reached on. This will increase the probability of reaching them when they are needed. Contact lists change often. Team members leave and new ones join the organizations. You should have a process in place to keep the information current.

Below are suggestions for EOT members (add or delete to customize for your company):

  • Management
  • Legal
  • Human Resources
  • Communications
  • Public Relations
  • Insurance and Risk Management
  • Safety
  • Finance
  • Labor Relations
  • Operations
  • Trading
  • Facilities or Property Management
  • Engineering
  • Security
  • Medical
  • Information Technology
  • Purchasing, Supply Chain and Distribution
  • Quality Control
  • Warehouse
  • Delivery

Public external team partnerships:

Leveraging external resources is critical as you build out your real-world resilience program.

Unfortunately, building these relationships is often overlooked. It is wise to establish them as soon as possible.

Preparing for a disruptive event, responding to an emergency, executing business recovery strategies and other activities often require support that comes from outside your organization. For example, if there was a fire in your building, you would call the fire department. Contractors and vendors may be needed to help repair and restore a building, salvage moldy vital records, remove snow, fix equipment….

An understanding of the availability and capabilities of external resources is needed to make decisions. How long would it take the fire department to arrive? How do you reach a contractor late at night and how long will it take them to arrive? Determining the response time and capabilities of external resources will help you identify gaps between what you need and what is available. Strategies must be developed to close these gaps.

Tip – During your tabletops try to schedule representation from local fire and law enforcement for at least a preset few minutes. I respect how busy they are and it is not fair to ask them to stay for 3 hours, but unless their resources are not available they always make time to attend my exercises. Even thirty minutes of their time can really make a difference. They can communicate important information on best practices such as what to do during a fire or active-shooter incident. They are the experts. I have learned so much from them over the decades. Your employees will benefit greatly.

Tip – During minute zero of a crisis you will be dependent on your internal resources. It happened during Katrina, 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy.  Public agencies will not be on the scene immediately. I suggest you read, ‘Five Days at Memorial – Life and Death in a Storm Ravaged Hospital’ by Sheri Fink for a riveting account of the first few days at at this major hospital during Katrina. Also, I suggest you read, ‘The Unthinkable – Who Survives When Disaster Strikes’ by Amanda Ripley for a sobering account of response during 9/11 from a survivor. The book also includes the heroic story of Rick Rescorla. You will identify with his bold take-charge actions. Both books are listed in the Recommended Reading chapter toward the end of the book.

The following suggested external resources should be identified within your plans. Include their contact information and any additional instructions required to quickly reach them.

Public Emergency Services

(Note: one agency or department may provide multiple services)

  • Fire
  • Law enforcement (local, county, state police)
  • Emergency medical services
  • Hospital or emergency health care provider
  • Hazardous materials
  • Public health
  • Public works

Contractors and Vendors

  • Emergency services (hazardous materials cleanup, facility repair and restoration)
  • Systems and equipment (procurement, inspection, testing and maintenance)
  • Information technology (equipment procurement, data backup, recovery solutions)
  • Business continuity (generators, temporary equipment, leased space, office trailers)

Partnerships

(Reciprocal or mutual aid agreements)

  • Business partners (suppliers, contractors, vendors and professional services firms that could lend assistance with services, temporary work-space and other resources)
  • Businesses or civic organizations in the community

* Reciprocal or other agreements should be documented in writing if possible.

UltimateBusinessContinuity.com