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Business Continuity Plan: Beyond the Basics

July 01, 2019 2:06 PM | Anonymous

By William J. Powers III -Director of Facilities at The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA.

It is imperative that organizations have a well-written All-Hazard Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in conjunction with an Incident Action Plan (IAP). This document includes a business continuity plan which helps the organization to maintain operations if possible. More than 40% of organizations are forced to close after a major incident. The plan is a living document that should be regularly reviewed and updated, as the process is dynamic and ever-evolving.

A comprehensive security analysis should be performed to help identify any potential risks. A strategy to mitigate such risks should then be developed. Scenario-based thinking will help to prepare and understand the challenges in managing the risks, and allows open-minded thinking to ask questions, such as “If this happens, what can be done?” Training must regularly occur and be consistent and in the right setting. Responders are often placed in difficult situations because the proper training has not been conducted. On-duty responders need training for everyone’s safety.

The four phases of emergency management are preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation—they are the basis for the ERP.* The goal is to end the incident as quickly as possible. The IAP summarizes incident response tasks and instructs personnel on mitigating potential damage. The Incident Response section prepares individual responders by assigning role-specific tasks. The Incident Closure and Debrief sections direct responders on aiding business recovery. Each response follows a step-by-step process—governed by the Incident Command System (ICS)—that will guide responders from incident preparation through incident closure.

A business continuity plan should clearly state in writing the essential functions and goals of the organization. The document should identify and prioritize the systems and protocols to be sustained and provide the necessary information for their maintenance. The ERP and IAP form the framework of incident response. Life safety will always be the highest priority. As the incident concludes, the next important step is to normalize business operations as soon as practical. More than 40% of organizations do not survive a disaster for various reasons.

Businesses having a plan to move forward after a critical event will have a better chance of staying open versus a business with no plan. During an emergency is not the time to determine what can be done and whom to contact. In the planning stages, it is easier to think more clearly and establish contracts and billing rates with vendors, contractors and others if the incident involves more than a single facility.

Community and Regional Resilience Institute (CARRI) is a concept of emergency management that FEMA initiated, and which differs slightly from Incident Command. The entire community is involved in the plan, and the decisions are made by consensus regarding the plan elements. In 2011, this concept was tested in the U.S. through several pilot programs across the country. This process requires resources and support from all local community agencies. The concept of this plan is relativity simple; however, it does become complex as to who has the decision-making authority in the community and how resources are allocated. There are many political governing bodies in this process—all with an interest in seeing it succeed—from the President through the cabinet. The government has made grants available to municipalities. The concept is who is better-equipped to make decisions for the people most impacted. Everyone is familiar with both the process and the local agencies.

The more communities are involved and acquaint themselves with the local agencies, the better and stronger the community becomes. It is similar to community policing—knowledgeable community residents are more willing to share information with law enforcement.

Through Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21), enacted in February 2013, the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) aligns with PPD-8, which addresses national preparedness. These directives help align communications with federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector groups to engage in emergency preparedness. With better communications, everyone working towards common goals, and understanding the fragile nature of critical infrastructure, people are more open to sharing when an incident occurs. The success of this integrated approach depends on leveraging the full spectrum of capabilities, knowledge and experience across the critical infrastructure, community and associated stakeholders. This requires efficient sharing of actionable and relevant information among partners to build situational awareness and enable effective, risk-informed decision-making.

*          FEMA: downloads/is10_unit3.doc


William J. Powers is the Director of Facilities at The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Powers oversees the Facilities, Maintenance and Security Departments of the Clark Art. Powers has over 30 years of experience in cultural property protection, starting at the Berkshire Museum in 1981 and coming to the Clark Art Institute in 1995. In addition to being a member of the Board of Directors for International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection (IFCPP), Powers is the Sergeant at Arms for the IFCPP, as well as a Self-Defense and Use of Force expert. He is a certified instructor through the IFCPP and frequently lectures on cultural property protection at cultural facilities and colleges. He was one of the first IFCPP members to host a Regional CIPS Certification Workshop, and continues to contribute valuable assistance to the Foundation. Along with working with the IFCPP, he serves on the awards committee and is an active member on the Cultural Properties Council for ASIS.

Powers has a Master’s Degree in Administration of Justice and Security. Powers also serves as a Captain with the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department, Uniform Branch, since 1995. He holds a 6th Degree Black Belt in martial arts and a Master Level Teaching Certificate. He is an active member of several national associations, including ASIS International, the American Association of Museums, the National Fire Protection Association, the New England Museum Association, the Association for Facilities Engineering, and the Museum Association Security Committee.


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