When it comes to emergency and continuity planning, we all know that communication is key. Such plans require a tremendous amount of input from a lot of different stakeholders for their development and continued maintenance. Try as you might, you will most likely leave someone out of the conversation at some point. That mistake, though completely unintentional, could have serious consequences.
A manager may not receive word that the Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan or Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) has been activated. Or, members of a particular department may not have been notified of a plan review meeting or annual exercise. The list of possibilities goes on an on, especially for larger organizations.
For obvious reasons, it is essential that organizations develop comprehensive strategies for how to communicate with key stakeholders and others in an emergency/continuity event. This includes executive management, department heads, staff (including full- and part-time workers as well as contractors), suppliers or third-party vendors, partners or resellers, consumers, and the media, among others.
Beyond developing these communication strategies, it is crucial that an organization document all the communication procedures it has established (and implemented) in the actual COOP and EOP. These may include the use of call trees, emergency notification systems, SMS “text” messaging, email, social media, or the simple publishing of such procedures on your intranet or website. It’s also important to test these methods on a regular basis to ensure their availability and usefulness.
Some planning solutions, like the BOLDplanning.com platform, include a mechanism for easily communicating with key stakeholders. The “Messages” button within the solution allows planners to notify people via email and SMS as needed. Such communication may relate to emergencies, COOP/EOP plan changes, plan development workshops, plan reviews, and even training courses for the BOLDplanning.com platform itself. These messages can be sent to individuals or groups, and are stored in the system indefinitely for audit trail purposes.
If you’ve not done so already, now may be the perfect opportunity to revisit your organization’s alert notification procedures as they relate to its COOP and EOP, or even its hazard mitigation plan.