Emergency and Risk Management

Business Continuity Planning and Emergency Management

Business continuity planning provides focus driven preparedness for businesses. At its simplest, business continuity planning (BCP) is the act of setting up a plan to ensure the very survival of an organization.  Since the early concern with the restoration of computer data, the concept of continuity has evolved in response to a changing environment.  Major events have demanded that BCP encompass a growing number of concerns.  The severe consequences of September 11th have raised many implications as to how BCP will evolve in response to the disaster.  How BCP evolves will directly influence business as a whole. 


A major implication is that terrorism must be considered as a real threat to the survival of business.  Second, BCP will expand to include a concern for the physical safety of employees.  The third implication may involve the decentralization of business operations as central to BCP.  Fourth, it may have to expand its sphere of concern to include the regional impacts of a disaster (including economic) to the area where a business is located.  Fifth is a new concern for the human relationships that a business depends on for its survival.  The sixth implication for BCP is a recovery time of zero.  The seventh implication is the renewed importance of critical data back-up systems.  The eighth is the inclusion of physical security concerns.  The expansion of BCP to encompass more concerns leads to the ninth implication, which is the increased importance of and pressure on business continuity planners. 


September 11th raised awareness of the fact that the survival of business depends on many external factors.  External factors such as infrastructure and public safety authorities play a key role in whether or not BCP is ultimately successful.  After September 11th, infrastructure vital to business has even come under the control of public safety authorities.  In this case BCP is doubly dependent on public safety authorities.  This awareness has lead to attempts at greater communication between business and government since the attacks.  Business is demanding interaction with government so that it can anticipate how to react in the event of not only terrorist attacks, but also any catastrophe that threaten its very survival.  The attempt at greater communication and interaction by business is a proactive effort to turn its reliance on public safety authorities into an opportunity to ensure the success of BCP.


This suggests that business will demand a more extensive role for emergency management in BCP.  The connection between emergency management and BCP is natural as it is authority that has the responsibility of public safety planning.  By demanding that emergency management play an extensive role in BCP, business can interact with government to ensure its survival.  Emergency management should meet this demand with an outstretched arm because it represents a great opportunity for the field.  If emergency management sincerely cooperates, then business may demand that government at all levels allocate more resources to emergency management in order to ensure that it can provide effective assistance.  Ultimately, with business as its advocate, emergency management may gain the influence it needs to assume a greater role in leading the local and national public safety agenda.

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