Build a Business Continuity Team with Decision Authority

Although most organizations have contemplated – to some degree – the what and how of
business continuity plans, including discussions about the stability of the IT system and
what to do if the company’s facilities or IT infrastructure are compromised, the who is often
overlooked. Assigning business continuity roles and responsibilities to each of your team
members and documenting that information in your plan will ensure that all the details are
handled in a timely and consistent manner. If your organization has no business continuity
plan in place, it’s fine to start out with a small team to lay the groundwork. Starting small is
better than not starting at all!

GAINING EXECUTIVE SUPPORT

No one person can, nor should, do it all when it comes to carrying out your business
continuity plan, but it is recommended that every organization identify a Business Continuity
Manager to lead the charge as it relates to the planning and preparedness process. In addition to organization-wide visibility, the Business Continuity Manager must have senior management support that would allow this individual to:

• Authorize budgets and financial support for BCM tools and team members;
• Dedicate time for team members to participate in planning, training, and drills;
• Emphasize the importance of business continuity planning and training across departments; and
• Mandate BCM plan adoption and nurture BCM culture throughout the organization.

CHOOSING YOUR BUSINESS CONTINUITY TEAM

Choosing the team can be one of the hardest parts of business continuity planning. Before
identifying your team members, consider what potential events your team is planning for,
as well as opportunities for cross-training among team members. The people who make up
this team should be chosen not just on job function alone, but also on their ability to handle
and respond to stressful situations, skillset, and their personal stake in the company.

Don’t forget to identify and inform external team members such as vendors and suppliers
of your business continuity plan. External team members are a crucial part of the plan to
ensure your business recovers as quickly as possible from a disruptive event. Depending
on the nature of your business, you may want to let high-profile vendors and customers
know who your crisis representatives and Business Continuity Manager are. In the case of an
emergency, they will know who they can expect to hear from or who they should contact
for critical information.

MANGING EMPLOYEES DURING CRISIS

Employees are an organization’s most critical resources, and their influence and outreach
can help expedite recovery. The first consideration of any organization at the onset of an
unexpected business disruption should be the safety of employees, therefore a robust two-way
mass notification system to confirm the employees’ safety and well-being is paramount.

Once safety and whereabouts of staff are confirmed and all affected staff are accounted
for, the business continuity team will need a reliable mode of communication that is not
dependent on a centralized location because—as with many cases—the team may not be
able to assemble. As part of your continuity planning, adopt systems that allow for virtual
continuity management and collaboration across multiple devices or modalities with smart
notification and message confirmation, plus a web-based solution for incident tracking so
that all team members will be updated and remain informed as the situation unfolds.

You want to be communicating directly with your employees and giving them the answers
they need before they look elsewhere to find them. Unfortunately, there are many cases
when employees are kept in the dark as a situation unfolds. Not only does this damage an
employee’s trust in the organization, it can also lead to other issues as employees share
their frustration publicly.

The best way to achieve efficiency and optimize operations from your team is to define
roles, responsibilities, and decision authority during the planning phase so that there is no
confusion or duplication of efforts under the stress of a live incident.