It depends. How receptive are you to the idea of bringing an outsider into your organization, and then revealing critical planning gaps and weaknesses to them? Do you think they are going to dig in and be a real partner in the planning process, or just step through the motions, charge you a small fortune, and move on to the next client? Or, do you truly value their time and subject matter expertise, trusting they will help deliver a Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan, Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), or Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) that is meaningful to your organization and the people it serves?
These are all good questions that get asked by organizations like yours every day. Why? Consultants, much like attorneys, oftentimes get a bad rap. Some people think they charge too much, produce too little, or never even really show up to the game at all. Besides, how can they possibly know more about your organization and its emergency planning needs than the people who work there, right?
Wrong. Depending on your organization, writing or updating emergency response plans can be tricky and complex. You may not have staff who are knowledgeable of COOP, EOP or HMP planning, or even the time necessary to research and produce such comprehensive plans.
In these instances, consultants can be very useful to your organization and its emergency planning efforts. Consider the following benefits of adding the right consultant(s) to your planning team:
The right preparedness consulting group will have highly skilled and certified planners on staff. These certifications help ensure the right processes are being followed to create optimum preparedness plans. Look for consultants with credentials such as Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP); FEMA certified continuity professionals such as Professional Continuity Practitioner (PCP) and Master Continuity Practitioner (MCP); and IAEM Certified Emergency Manager (CEM). Also seek consultants and facilitators who have real-world experience.
It is often difficult for professional emergency managers to stay up-to-date with new requirements and industry best practices. Leading consulting providers stay abreast of all new FEMA guidance, funding sources, industry trends, etc. to ensure your plans are effective and compliant. Consultants typically monitor resources such as:
- DHS/FEMA FCD 1 & FCD2
- Continuity Guidance Circular
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
- CPG 101 & 102
- 44CFR Section 201
In addition to planning subject matter expertise, top consultants are experienced in the art and science of facilitating groups and engaging stakeholders. Group participants may be more open with a consultant, and sensitive political environments can often be navigated more effectively with a third-party expert. This combination of skills helps ensure plans are accurate and fully encompass the inputs of a variety of stakeholders.
So, if you find your organization needing a new or updated COOP, EOP or HMP, consider hiring a consultant. The right one may just be worth their weight in gold.
Having developed over 10,000 emergency preparedness plans for public and private sector organizations across 39 states, BOLDplanning offers first-class consultative services coupled with an industry-leading online planning platform.