Emergency Management and Crisis Management Teams for Business Continuity
- By Ronald C. French -
Feb. 24, 2010
Certain assumptions must be made when developing a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) or a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). Business operations during an emergency are not “business as usual”. Decisions that are critical to the resiliency of a business in an emergency must be made by managers that are fully knowledgeable of their operations and fully documented in any organization’s BCP/COOP.
Unanticipated threats and emergencies can and will occur with no warning that could cause a significantly adverse impact on an organization’s mission essential operations. It is important, therefore, that key employees and managers be assigned to emergency management and response teams to facilitate the continuation of mission essential business operations. The emergency management /crisis management team should only include managers and employees who are fully knowledgeable of their functions and with key skills necessary to ensure the continuity of critical business operations in an emergency.
It is necessary to clearly pre-identify the emergency response and management team members and their responsibilities in a BCP/COOP. Documentation of team responsibilities is important to avoid “last minute” guesses about team membership, team responsibilities, and decisions they are authorized to make in an emergency. These employees should be fully aware of their team responsibilities in the initial response and involvement in an emergency.
Normally, there are various emergency teams that constitute the emergency management or crisis management team in a hierarchical structure similar to the supervisory structure or chain of command in any organization. Don’t overload a BCP or COOP with unnecessary or overlapping emergency teams. Too many teams and team members will only get in each other’s ways and make a bad situation worse. Keep the number of emergency management teams to a minimum with distinct and clearly documented responsibilities. Likewise, don’t overload the description of team responsibilities with information that is not critical to the initial evaluation of emergency or major decisions for the continuity of business.
The Executive Management Team (EMT) is normally the highest point in the emergency management team structure and consists of the highest level of executives in the organization. The EMT will make such decisions as the declaration of an emergency, determine when the employees should move to an alternate recovery site, determine when to purchase key equipment, and decide when to return to the original work site.
The Initial Response Team (IRT) normally consists of a limited number of key employees and even a member of the EMT who will assess the level of damage to critical work operations in an emergency. This team may also be referred to as a first responder team. The functions of the IRT are normally led by a designated BCP/COOP coordinator to facilitate the evaluations of the IRT members and submit a consolidated recommendation to the EMT for its final decision to declare an emergency or not. IRT members may include employees from such operations as information technology, facility management, work operations (normally the primary business of the organization), human resources, contracting, and a legal representative.
The Emergency Recovery Team (ERT) consists of key employees from all major operations of the organization to assist in the relocation of business operations and respective employees to an alternate recovery site, inventory of equipment or supply losses, the requisition of equipment and supplies, and setting up the business operation.
Each business unit within the organization may have its own continuity and recovery teams to facilitate their continued operations that are unique to their unit.