Planners know that the successful execution of their organization’s emergency operations or business continuity plan hinges on one important factor. People. The people, or contacts, identified within such plans must carry out certain duties, or functions, in a disruption, and work toward the shared goal of resilience.

Without their involvement, particularly if they are key staff, e.g., executive management or department heads, recovery may be slower than anticipated, or even stall out. That’s a risk no organization can afford to take. For this reason, it’s imperative to not only identify these individuals during the initial planning phase, but to also have their emergency contact information readily available and up to date at all times.

To help you better manage the contacts associated with your organization’s emergency operations or business continuity plan, consider the following five questions:  

  1. Have we identified the key personnel within our organization that would make decisions during a continuity event?
  2. Are there alternates, or back-ups, for these key personnel, in case they are unavailable or busy performing other critical tasks?
  3. Do we have their personal contact information documented and accessible within our plan in case of events occurring during non-business hours?
  4. Do we have vendors/partners, e.g., IT services, who provide critical services or resources?
  5. Are the vendors and their contact information documented within our plan?

Because people come and go within organizations, and so often their roles and responsibilities change, it’s important to review your emergency operations or business continuity plan (or at least the contacts associated with it) on a regular basis. Every six months is recommended; once a year is typical.

Regardless of the frequency you choose, it’s crucial to update the phone numbers, email addresses, etc. for your plan’s contacts as soon as you know there are changes. Online planning software can make the process easier and more efficient. After all, a real emergency is no time to find out you can’t reach someone you need in order to get your organization back on its feet.