Essential functions, mission critical functions, essential business functions. No matter what you call them, they’re a crucial part of any emergency or continuity plan. Why? Essential functions are the responsibilities, or tasks, that your organization must complete to be considered operational. These can range from general accounting and HR to emergency / 9-1-1 call response, and virtually anything and everything in between. To help you identify and prioritize your organization’s essential functions, BOLDplanning suggests you ask yourself the following ten questions.

  1. What functions do we perform and which ones are most important?
  2. What’s the frequency of the function(s) that must be conducted – daily, weekly, monthly, etc.?
  3. What resources (people, equipment, facilities, specialized resources) are required to complete these function(s)?
  4. Are certain functions dependent upon successful completion of another (finish-to-start), and if so, which ones?
  5. Does our organization have a clear understanding of which functions must continue during times of disruption versus those that can be delayed temporarily?
  6. Of those functions being delayed, do we have an understanding of how long they can be delayed?
  7. Are there certain functions that we perform based on requirements by laws, regulations or mandates?
  8. What is the priority of our essential functions based on their importance to our organization?
  9. Does everyone within our organization understand their role(s) in carrying out our essential functions?
  10. Could we experience loss of revenue or a tarnished reputation if certain functions aren’t maintained in an emergency or business disruption?

While the answers to these ten questions will vary from organization to organization, it’s important to know that all essential functions serve the distinct purpose of ensuring continuity at all times. Once essential functions have been identified and prioritized in a logical and meaningful way, next steps can be taken, such as determining the impact of the loss of the function, assigning risks and outlining appropriate actions steps.