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8 Expert Tips for Improving Oil and Gas Business Continuity Programs

Posted on Thu, Jul 31, 2014

Improving the effectiveness of business continuity plans (BCPs) should be an ongoing event. From technological advancements to best practices implementation, continually evolving planning programs can improve recovery time and minimize unexpected impacts of recovery efforts.

Below are eight tips to consider in the continual effort to improve business continuity programs:

1. Data Availability and Accuracy: Establishing readily available, accurate, and up-to-date response information has been proven to limit the duration of the emergency.  The faster continuity processes can be accessed and assessed, the sooner business continuity procedures can be implemented, critical business functions can be restored, and “business as usual” operations can be reestablished. Technology advancements and web-based formats enable companies to simplify plan administration efforts and expand availability options.

Site-specific information regarding company operations, critical business units, on-site equipment, and employees are continuously changing.  If critical plan information is missing or out-of-date, the recovery will be hindered.  Accurate details of personnel or operational modifications, expansions, and adjustments must be incorporated into a business continuity program.

2. Training: Business continuity training programs that include crucial personnel, experienced leadership, best practice guidelines, and proper documentation ensures established processes will be implemented as planned. While peripheral collaboration and partnerships in business continuity efforts can be markedly beneficial, companies should not solely rely on external assistance or government agencies to restore ideal working environments. Company training should be designed to minimize impacts on personnel and the operational infrastructure, while ensuring adequate business continuity responses.

Companies need to perform cyclical internal training program audits to create corporate assurance, add business continuity program value, improve operational productivity, and ideally prevent harmful incidents from dismantling operations. Objective internal auditing that begins with a business impact analysis (BIA) emphasizes corporate responsibility to employees. BIAs, in conjunction with training, can often reveal inadequacies and mitigation opportunities. Training audits can bring a systematic, self-sufficient, and disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of business continuity efforts and corporate governance processes.

3. Exercises: Exercises provide a setting for BCP procedures to be tested. Real world exercise scenarios can often highlight potential deficiencies in the BCP processes and procedures, comprehension of individual roles and responsibilities, and partnership coordination. Identifying BCP deficiencies can lead to unrecognized mitigation and training opportunities.

In preparation for these exercises, companies should develop exercise-planning documents, including participant and controller’s packages that contain exercise objectives, scenarios, ground rules, and simulation scripts. These guidelines, at a minimum, should be provided to all participants prior to the exercise to allow for a thorough examination of exercise expectations.

4. Accessibility: Web-based BCPs offer a secured accessibility option for stakeholders, auditors, and employees. With web-based technology and an Internet connection, enterprise-wide BCP programs embedded with database driven software can be immediately and securely available without the “version confusion” typically found in other formats.

Companies should establish BCP backup and download procedures that ensure the latest version of the plan is always accessible in the event Internet communication is lost. However, a web-based format enables secured access from any location, magnifying accessibility opportunities far from the site of impact. Both paper-based plans and those housed on a company intranet are often out of date with multiple versions in various locations or inaccessible in an emergency scenario.

5. Collaboration: Business continuity program effectiveness can be optimized through efficient interoperability and partnerships. When diverse organizations work together for a greater good, response expertise can dramatically broaden and recovery time minimized. Limiting the timeline of potentially escalating incidents and maximize business continuity efforts can accelerate recovery time and operational restoration. Coordinating planning, training, drills, exercises, and resource availability with local agencies, contractors, and site leadership is an important aspect of business continuity programs.

Local agencies may provide additional knowledge based on particular research, experiences, or occupational training in a particular area of study. Company or facility emergency managers and business continuity leaders should continually meet with government agencies, community organizations, and utility companies throughout the entire planning cycle to discuss likely emergencies and the available resources to minimize the effects on operations.

6. Auditing: Business continuity audits, whether conducted by in-house professionals or experienced consultants, can often reveal the planning inadequacies and mitigation opportunities.  Regrettably, most companies address business continuity gaps only after an incident has occurred. With an objective eye, a BIA and plan audit can bolster a business continuity program and minimize the chance of incidents resulting in crippling revenue, operations, and company viability.

7. Mitigation: Adverse conditions, inept processes, or ineffective procedures pose risks to employees, infrastructures, and critical business units. By eliminating or mitigating risks, companies can reduce the potential for business continuity situations. A risk assessment and BIAs can be used to identify situations that may lead to incidents and prolonged response.

While all risks cannot be averted, a company can become better prepared for continuity if the procedural risk mitigation measures are implemented. Mitigation measures may include a variety of tactics including, but not limited to training for employees, updating processes and procedures, or purchasing updated equipment.

8. Best Practices Implementation: Applying “best practices” to a business continuity program enables managers to leverage past experiences as a means to improve planning efforts for future impacting scenarios. By analyzing past incidents and responses, executing enhancements, and reinforcing lessons learned, companies will be better prepared than their historical counterparts.

For a free download on Designing a Crisis Management Program, click the image below:

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Resiliency, Business Continuity Plan

Oil and Gas: Combating Common Business Continuity Obstacles

Posted on Thu, Jul 24, 2014

A well-developed Business Continuity Plan (BCP) can minimize escalating business disruptions, while safeguarding key business interests, relationships, and assets. Unfortunately, many companies do not acknowledge the value of a BCP and fail to prioritize sustainability. This many be especially true of highly regulated industries, such the oil and gas industry, that prioritize mandated compliance measures.

Below are common obstacles in business continuity planning and possible countermeasures to offset these hurdles.

Lack of management support

It is challenging to perform a cost-benefit analysis that measures the benefits of business continuity. There is a high degree of uncertainty associated with implementing BCP measures. Benefits resulting from BCP and mitigation efforts are dynamic in nature, and are not limited to a single structure, department, or operation.

The financial benefits from a BCP implementation must be viewed from the long-term perspective.  A BCP can dramatically lessen the financial impact of future crises and promote operational sustainability and corporate viability. However, managers and corporate executives typically do not act based on “what if” scenarios unless regulations require implementation. Managerial actions are generally based on concrete financials that benefit departments, stockholders, and the bottom line.  

Countermeasure:2014 Global Risks Report2014 Global Risks Report by The World Economic Forum, makes a compelling case that may provoke and inspires leaders to implement continuity efforts.

Budget restraints

Because companies are in the business of making a profit, business continuity planning budgets are often compromised for other priorities.

Countermeasure: It may be helpful to estimate the cost of implementation for each critical process in relation to the cost of a critical process breakdown.  This exercise may highlight the need for a designated business continuity budget.

It may also be necessary to prioritize BCP implementation by each critical process with a step-by-step timeline for completion. Companies can identify and rank the most critical business processes, and implement BCP and mitigation measures based on those priorities. While most processes are intertwined, taking small steps to ensure process continuity is a step toward overall business continuity. Managers may be more likely to implement a BCP if it can be initiated over time.

Maintaining a culture of preparedness

Unless a company has experienced an eye-opening business continuity issue, the presence of a realistic, tangible threat may be the only protagonist to champion a culture of preparedness.

Countermeasure: Managers who emphasize, embrace, and enact safety and continuity measures, as part of standard operating procedures will create a work environment that reflects the guiding principles preparedness. As preparedness measures and best practices are ingrained in operational processes, personnel will be more apt to embrace the culture

Lack of business continuity awareness and training

When identifying company, operational, and process vulnerabilities, managers and employees frequently recognize the limits of their business continuity expertise. Oil and gas management and employees may have expertise in hazardous response planning measures and tactics, however their business continuity experience may be limited. The process of identifying business continuity mitigation opportunities, developing recovery processes, and training personnel in continuity roles and responsibilities often requires experience. Companies often disregard business continuity training and awareness as a result of ineptitude.

Countermeasure: If implementing continuity efforts are beyond the scope of managers, companies should consider hiring consultants who specialize in business continuity planning. External resources can address site-specific business continuity needs, detailed standard operating procedures for BCP activation, and personnel training. Training should convey procedural flexibility based on continuing assessment of disaster demands and provide options for each scenario. Companies can also assign a designated manager to become proficiently trained in business continuity in order to pass down preparedness guidelines and best practices.

Identifying critical processes:

Many mid to large sized companies often operate with separate, independent business units (or departments). Each critical business process within each unit must be identified and quantified in order to determine its role in the business continuity planning process. Most business unit processes are often intertwined with other critical functions, contributing to the overall profitability of a company. When critical business processes are not functional, a company’s ability to operate and reputation may be in jeopardy.

Countermeasures: Overall resilience capabilities should be prioritized to mitigate any interruption. Understanding response procedures, the interconnected structure of processes between units, and the intricacies of a “Plan B” can make the difference between corporate survival or failure. Crisis and disaster situations usually result in the loss or temporary disruption of one or more of the following necessary key business resources:

  • Facilities
  • Infrastructure
  • IT Applications/Systems
  • People
  • Supply Chain

 Unidentified threats and vulnerabilities:  

Threats and vulnerabilities must be identified in order for potential impacts to be analyzed and countermeasures to be implemented. Identification can be complicated by the continuing evolving nature of potential threats and vulnerabilities. Threats and vulnerabilities can stem from both external and internal actions. New technologies, best practices, and mitigation efforts can often minimize threats. However, as operations evolve and new concepts are introduced, additional threats and vulnerabilities can emerge.

Countermeasures: An annual risk and hazard analysis can identify potential undiscovered threats and vulnerabilities relating to business continuity. This analysis indicates the likeliness that specific threats that could occur, considering existing site-specific factors, capabilities, mitigation measures, and history. Companies should analyze potential continuity threats from typical weather patterns, geographical influences, security efforts, inherent operational hazards, as well as facility design and potential maintenance issues.

For a free download on Designing a Crisis Management Program, click the image below:

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Business Continuity, Resiliency, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Business Continuity Plan, Business Disruption

Managing The Key Resources of Industrial Business Continuity Plans

Posted on Mon, Jul 21, 2014

Emergency management is continually evolving. The changing threat environment, including acts of nature, accidents, infrastructure weaknesses, cyber security attacks, and terrorist related incidents, coupled with tightly intertwined supply chains, has increased the urgency to revamp emergency management and business continuity efforts.

Building business continuity and emergency response plans to maintain personnel safety, and protect and restore operations is vital. Companies continue to develop and improve upon existing processes to seamlessly aid in managing risk and the rapid restoration of operational processes. However, with ever-changing threats, multiple sites, and human resource variables across an enterprise, most companies find it challenging to develop and maintain accurate and realistic business continuity plans (BCPs).

While the planning process may be executed with in-house staff, some companies prefer to use seasoned consultants for impartial critical process evaluations and experienced guidance. Consultants should have hands-on experience in business continuity and disaster preparedness. Specialized consultants may offer web-based, database driven platforms that incorporate site-specific business continuity information while streamlining company formats across an enterprise. The web-base option eases maintenance efforts and reduces administrative costs associated with managing BCPs. However, consultants must be able to comprehend core business needs and clearly communicate recommendations in order to successfully develop a customized, site specific, and functional BCP.

According to FEMA, the ability to perform essential functions lies within four key resources.

  • Leadership
  • Staff
  • Communications and Technology
  • Facilities

Site-specific information must be applied to the key resources. It is necessary for continued operation to evaluate and identify alternate site-specific resources that may be utilized during an incident.  If one or more of the key resources are lost, critical business processes may be affected. Keep in mind that any new business operations that may have developed also need to be included in these evaluations.

Leadership

Business Continuity Coordinators (BCCs) are typically responsible for the development and maintenance of business continuity plans. They must work closely with critical business units to understand their processes, identify risks, and provide solutions to help manage and minimize those risks. However, once an incident occurs, the BCCs must communicate, manage, and control activities associated with damage assessments and the recovery of critical business functions. Depending on the enterprise, a BCC may be assigned to an individual facility or a specific geographic location that encompasses numerous facilities with like-operations.

The BCC, in conjunction with the Incident Commander, may be tasked with activating and coordinating organization elements in accordance with an incident action plan.  By working with the appropriate business unit leaders assigned to business continuity/recovery plans, the BCC can also provide guidance for compliance with Incident Action Plan (IAP) components.

Staff

The BCP should systematically guide specifically assigned personnel to restore operations that are affected by abnormal conditions. It is critical to identify the implications of a sudden loss for each business unit or necessary resource by performing a business impact analysis. While critical process evaluations can determine operational dependencies that are required to maintain normal operations, staff must be trained to carry out the BCP objectives. BCP training and exercises should occur (at a minimum) on an annual basis, or as required by regulations or company policy.

A BCP should identify the minimum staffing levels necessary to remain operational. As recovery advances, staffing levels may require adjustments. Depending on the scenario, the least critical process participants might have to vacate the facility while leaving critical players in motion to maintain or restore necessary functions. Companies should ensure staff, contractors, and suppliers understand their initial and adjusted responsibilities, and recovery time objectives.

Communications and Technology

Clear and effective communication channels and critical technologies must be available in order to disseminate information to employees, assess and relay incident updates, and implement necessary recovery strategies. As part of the business continuity mitigation process, companies should evaluate available communication equipment, mass notification systems, and technology storage and backup processes to ensure accessibility and functionality in multiple business continuity scenarios. All critical communication and technology should be included in a BCP with detailed recovery procedures and recovery time objectives.

Facilities

Facility management should be a crucial aspect of a business continuity plan. If an area or facility cannot sustain minimum service or operational levels, companies should mobilize resources, and/or relocate equipment and personnel to alternate areas, facilities, or redundant sites. If deemed acceptable, this may include  “working from home” strategies. In order to respond quickly and effectively to facility damage, BCPs should include predetermined suppliers/contractors (tree services, plumbers, electricians, restoration companies, and/or necessary skilled trades and suppliers).

For a free download on Designing a Crisis Management Program, click the image below:

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: BCM Standards, Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Cloud Computing, Business Continuity Plan

4 Preparedness Templates Every Response Plan Administrator Must Have

Posted on Thu, May 08, 2014

Every company, whether an industrial enterprise or a large office building management group, must operate profitably and ensure the safety of its employees, yet comply with a complex array of federal, state and local regulations.  A lack of response planning and neglectful preparedness efforts can result in regulatory compliance fines, infrastructure damage, a negative public perception, and possibly a government-mandated shutdown of operations. While response plan requirements vary by industry, operation, and applicable regulations, utilizing these four preparedness elements can lay the foundation for a basic response planning program.

1. Emergency Response Plan: Every effort should be made to include processes and procedures to respond to the most likely emergency scenarios relevant to your site. Depending on industry, operations, and site hazards, companies may be required to submit specialized response plans to one or a variety of federal regulatory agencies.

Emergency responses plans need to serve a specific response purpose and meet explicit planning objectives. Below is a list of some basic planning objectives that may be relevant to your facility:

  1. Establish site-specific emergency response procedures for each potential threat, risk or emergency scenario. These may include, but are not limited to:
    1. Medical emergencies
    2. Hazardous releases
    3. Fire
    4. Severe weather
    5. Security issues
  2. Design an emergency response team framework and assign personnel to fill primary and alternate roles.
  3. Define notification and emergency response team activation procedures.
  4. Establish communication procedures and a primary and alternate Emergency Operations Center location.
  5. Identify and quantify necessary response equipment
  6. Ensure emergency response team personnel receive applicable and required training.
  7. Establish mitigation procedures and protective actions to safeguard the health and safety of on-site personnel and nearby communities.
  8. Identify and ensure availability of responders and supply chain resources.
  9. Maintain compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal requirements for environmental hazards, response plans, and training requirements.
  10. Integrate best practices and lessons learned from past training and exercises, actual emergencies, and incident reviews.

2. Fire Pre plan: The purpose of the pre fire emergency plans is to ensure a coordinated, expedient, and safe response in the event of a fire. The information listed in a fire pre-plan, such as floor plan(s) and details of on-site hazardous material(s), may also required by multiple agencies (OSHA, DOT, EPA, USCG) as part of an overall emergency response plan.  However, specific fire fighting information, such as construction details, hydrant, and utility valve locations may be useful to responders if highlighted in a stand-alone format and shared with responders prior to an emergency.

Having up-to-date information readily available, and available to knowledgeable responders has been proven to limit the duration of the emergency.  The faster responders can locate, assess, access, and mitigate the emergency, the sooner an incident can be contained...and the sooner facility operations can be restored to “business as usual”.

3. Business Continuity: Companies should establish methods to preserve critical business processes during adverse conditions to ensure operational viability and minimize the potential of lost revenues. Failure to develop an effective business continuity plan can lead to costly and devastating impacts, often affecting the long-term viability of a company.

The following business continuity planning cycle should be incorporated into every business process in order to reduce the duration of a disruption during an emergency.

  • PLAN: Identify the following -
    • Potential risks/threats
    • Trigger events
    • Impacted business processes/activities
    • Incident response structure
    • Warning and communication process
    • Recovery time objectives
  • ESTABLISH: Define the following -
    • Parameters of business continuity strategy
    • Communication and documentation processes
    • Training requirements
    • Detailed employee/ vendor contact information
    • Supplier dependencies and alternate resources
  • IMPLEMENT:
    • Initiate response checklists
    • Activate relocation strategies of critical processes
  • OPERATE: Manage critical processes and recovery time objectives.
  • MONITOR:
    • Equipment requirements
    • Primary and alternate facility details
    • Application and software requirements
  • MAINTAIN: Update key details and associated processes as deficiencies and inaccuracies are identified
  • CONTINUALLY IMPROVE: Incorporate lessons learned into the plans and training and periodically evaluate critical business processes to ensure that evolving businesses practices are captured.

4. Crisis Management Plan: When incidents occur, a crisis management plan (CMP) can minimize the escalation effect; such as a company’s short and long-term reputation, adverse financial performance, and overall impingement of company longevity. The associated level of preparedness may mean the difference between a crisis averted and an exhaustive corporate disaster.  

The following concepts should be utilized to generate an effective crisis management plan:

  • PREDICT: Identify all potential threats to “business as usual” operations. This can range from incidents requiring an emergency response to human resource controversies.
  • POSITION: Determine what your position or viewpoint will be on potential issues.
  • PREVENT: Take preventive measures to avert emergency situations and proactively deter negative perceptions. This includes generating effective response procedures and recovery processes for a variety of potential threats..
  • PLAN:  If mitigation efforts fail or an emergency situation arises, prepare a plan for responding to all internal and external aspects of the crisis. This may include identifying and communicating with media, and all audiences that may be affected by each crisis situation.
  • PERSEVERE: Follow your plan and communicate company positions and ongoing activities to counteract the incident. Proactive efforts, honesty, empathy, and preparedness will assist in maintaining company viability and reputation.
  • EVALUATE: If the CMP is enacted, review the results to determine if adjustments should be made.

 

Challenged with managing preparedness amongst your various facilites? Download TRP's best practices guide on response planning for large organizations with multi-facility operations.

Multiple Facility Response Planning Company Preparedness Guide DOWNLOAD

Tags: Fire Pre Plans, Business Continuity, Fire Preparedness, Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans, Crisis Management, Emergency Response Planning, Business Continuity Plan

Securing Critical Business Functions Through BC Preparedness Planning

Posted on Mon, Feb 24, 2014

Human nature is such that we go about our days under the impression that disasters will never happen to us. As a result, preparedness is often low on the list of priorities. Beneficial uncertainty, financial strain, and daily workloads leave many companies without a sustainable and actionable business continuity plan (BCP).

The 24/7 news bombardments of impending doom and heart wrenching disasters continually emphasizes the need for a BCP, despite its high degree of beneficial uncertainty associated with implementation. Unless regulations require implementation, business practices are not typically based on “what if” scenarios. To add to the complexity, performing a cost-benefit analysis for business continuity is challenging. Managerial decisions are generally based on concrete financials that benefit departments, stockholders, and profitability. Benefits resulting from BCP and mitigation efforts are dynamic in nature, and are not limited to a single structure, department, or operation.

However, nearly every company relies on the following essential functions and/or resources for productivity and profitability:

  • Leadership
  • Staff
  • Communications/Technology
  • Infrastructure

If one or more of these essential functions and/or resources fails, companies must have alternative processes in order to remain functional.  When the disruptions or failures are extended over hours, days, or weeks, a company's general viability is at risk.

Awareness has made it evident that business continuity plans are crucial to insure long-term viability. Companies that prepare for disruptions limit their impact on the overall business processes and accelerate the return to normal business operations.  For those not prepared, the situation can negatively affected profitability, customer relationships, and overall business performance.

Most C-level executives’ role is to support and protect company assets.  Implementing a BCP with key details and alternate provisional elements can better ensure that a company will survive any type of disruption or disaster. The following elements can be used as a basic outline for a BCP.

1. Plan distribution list: Names, addresses, and contact information of those that retain access to business continuity plan.

2. Key contacts: Identify all primary and secondary contacts that must be made aware of the business interruption. It is important to routinely verify contact information for accuracy.

3. Key Staff Roles and Responsibilities: Job specific checklists and procedures detailing responsibilities from business continuity implementation through recovery. Task teams should be formed, at a minimum, to cover each essential business process. It may be necessary to provide cross team training and provide extended knowledge in case primary team members are not available.

4. Off-site recovery location: Include address, contact info, available on-site equipment, and any necessary external equipment for effective operations.

5. Recovery Action Plan: Incremental processes and procedures necessary for each critical business process to meet goals. Checklists  may be developed in increments such as, 1st hour, 24-hour, 48-hour, one week, one month, and long-term recovery.

6. Key customers’ data:  Identify communication methods and necessary contact information in order to inform customers of disruptions of deliverables. Effective customer relations and communication may be critical in retaining clients and maintaining positive relationships during a business interruption.

7. Key supplier contact list: Dependencies and interdependencies should be identified and contact information confirmed and detailed. Transportation delays could affect delivery times. Plan  mitigate, and communicate accordingly.

8. Alternate suppliers list: The consequences of a supply chain failure on associated key business components can be crippling to productivity. Through the planning process, alternate suppliers should be explored to reduce the impact of supply chain disruptions.

9. Insurance details: Identify details of insurance coverage and accurate contact information. The burden of proof when making claims typically lies with the policyholder. Accurate and detailed records of disruption are imperative.

10. Back-up data: Identify details of computer-back ups and the recovery methods.

11. Technology requirements: Identify necessary hardware and software, and the minimum recovery time requirements for each business unit.

12. Equipment requirements: Detail applicable equipment requirements for each business unit and recovery time goals.

13. Review log: Newly identified hazards and vulnerabilities should be incorporated into the business continuity plan. Log can include necessary equipment used (requiring replacement or replenishment), altered processes, and lessons learned.

 

For a free download on conducting effective exercises, click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

Tags: Business Continuity key points, Resiliency, Business Continuity Plan, Business Disruption

Supplemental Response Planning for Specific Threats

Posted on Thu, Feb 20, 2014

Every crisis situation and required response is unique. Comprehensive, compliant, and functional response plans should be created to address a broad scope of planned responses for a variety of probable emergency and crisis situations. However, if a facility has a high-risk potential for a specific scenario, supplemental response plans can be added to the overall emergency management program.

Incident-specific supplemental response plans should include many of the same details of an all-inclusive response plan including, but not limited to:

  • Details of hazard-specific location(s)
  • Evacuation routes
  • Plot Plans
  • Specific provisions and protocols for warning employees, the public, and disseminating emergency information
  • Personal protective and response equipment, and detection devices
  • Policies and processes for each specific hazard
  • Roles and responsibilities

Supplemental plans should be aligned with company protocols, site-specific personnel details, and specialized training and exercise programs. Below are examples of potential supplemental response plans that can be added to a preparedness program.  

Fire Pre Plans: Fires cause billions of dollars in property damage and unnecessary deaths and injuries every year. Fire pre plans address site-specific information necessary to effectively fight a fire and limit exposures. Despite the response situation or circumstances, a fire pre plan form should include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Building/site layout information
  • Fire suppression information
  • Hazards locations
  • Utility information
  • Exposure information
  • Water supply
  • Evacuation needs
  • Occupancy information
  • Special procedures for handling, storage and control of items that have been identified as major fire hazards
  • Mutual aid resources
  • Strategies

If applicable, specific chemical and hazardous details in regards to particular buildings, tanks, and/or process units, and the necessary foam requirements should be included in fire pre plans.

Hurricane Plans: If a site is located in a hurricane-prone area, conducting a business impact analysis prior to hurricane season can identify key process that may be interrupted during and after a hurricane. Once these processes are identified, hurricane planning can incorporate steps to limit the impact resulting from loss  of facilities, infrastructure, personnel, or supply chain. Below are some areas to consider when developing hurricane response plans:

  • Preparedness and response timeline
  • Structural integrity of the facility/location
  • Alternate location options
  • Records and software accessibility
  • Employee contact information
  • Communication methods
  • Dedicated hurricane response responsibilities
  • Equipment needs

A hurricane plan should include evacuation route maps or shelter in place areas. Evacuation routes and scope of evacuation may change depending on the location of the facility, potential storm intensity, forecasted path, or inherent risks.

Pandemic Plans: In the event that a health crisis emerges that affects the potential for continuity of operations, companies should establish a Pandemic Response Plan. A pandemic plan identifies how necessary resources and personnel can be optimized to support the organization, yet minimize the threat of mass contamination.

Pandemic response plans can define pandemic impact levels. Example levels are as follows:

  • Level 1 - Normal Operations, which include contact verification with key stakeholder (both internal and external) and conducting pandemic plan briefings
  • Level 2 - Business as usual with staff directed to work from remote locations, if feasible
  • Level 3 - Business as usual with limited on-site staff.  (Only essential employees who cannot work remotely would report on-site)
  • Level 4 - Emergency Service Level with normal levels of operation with minimum staffing.
  • Level 5 - All non-critical operations are suspended and critical business processes are examined for those that can be suspended
  • Level 6 - Return to normal operations after situational assessment

Additional Natural Disasters: Natural hazards tend to occur repeatedly in the same geographical locations because of weather patterns or physical characteristics of an area. Depending on your specific location-based risks, the following hazards specific information may be developed as a supplemental plan:

  • Floods
  • Tornadoes
  • Thunderstorms and Lightning
  • Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
  • Extreme Heat
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanoes
  • Landslide and Debris Flow (Mudslide)
  • Tsunamis
  • Wildfires

Business Continuity Plans (BCP):  Any divergent situation may impact a company's optimal operational level. The primary purpose of a BCP is to minimize financial and operational impacts of a business interruption and to ensure ongoing viability. A BCP provides a mechanism for the continuity of, and safeguarding of key business interests, relationships, and assets. While a BCP cannot prevent occurrences from disrupting business operations, it can provide insight to mitigation opportunities, a focused plan to respond to incidents, maximize efficiency based on the given parameters, and a pathway of how to restore operations to normal productivity. The following are key concepts that should be considered when developing a BCP:

  • Identify business processes that are critical to your continued operation
  • Determine what personnel, software, and vendors are required to continue these processes
  • Identify alternate locations where these processes can be maintained in the event of a loss to critical facilities
  • Identify how communications will be maintained
  • Provide awareness and training for these identified personnel to support the continuity of operations
 
For a free download on Fire Pre Plans, click the image below:
TRP Corp Fire Pre-Plans Pre Fire Plan

Tags: Pandemic Planning, Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Fire Pre Plans, Fire Preparedness, Emergency Management Program, Business Continuity Plan, Tornado Preparedness

Hats, Gloves, and Business Continuity Planning

Posted on Thu, Feb 13, 2014

In January 2014, the meteorological term “Polar Vortex” was indoctrinated in the minds of millions across the United States. With arctic temperature plummeting unusually south, two-thirds of the nation was paralyzed by record breaking cold.  According to Evan Gold, Senior Vice President at Planalytics, a business weather intelligence company, January’s polar vortex resulted in a $50 billion economic disruption, the most delivered by a weather phenomenon since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Severe weather habitually effects routine business operations and profitability. Weather can be the culprit of power outages, dangerous temperatures, supply disruptions, safety hazards, and potentially impair access to key infrastructures. The January events, which impacted nearly 200 million people, is one of the many examples of how severe weather affects operational continuity.  Fortunately, temperatures will generally rise over the next few weeks and winter gear can be stored until next season. However, with every new season come new risks and the  need for an effective business continuity plan.

Despite seasonal specifics, companies should perform a business impact analysis (BIA), a precursor to a business continuity plan. The process of a BIA, in conjunction with a Business Continuity Plan allows for targeted recovery strategies to be developed in the event of an emergency. A BIA should be utilized to predict the consequences of business functions and process disruptions. Through a detailed analysis of potential lapses, predetermining applicable recovery strategies can reduce the length and severity of disruption impacts. These preparedness strategies allow for a smoother transition from critical business process disruptions to “business as usual”.

After each critical process is identified, the potential impacts resulting from loss of facilities, infrastructure, personnel, or supply chain can be examined for each process. Key minimum recovery components along with incremental recovery time objectives should be detailed for each critical process. Timely recovered critical processes reduce the overall potential damage to operations.

To identify the minimum service level requirements for specific key process, the following components should be evaluated for each critical business process.

  1. Recovery Time: Identify how long it would take to recover a specific critical process under scenario specific circumstances.
  2. IT requirements: If electronic data must be available to recover specific processes to a minimum service level, identify the necessary requirements.
  3. Data Backup History: Indicate how old the data can be to satisfy recovery (i.e. last weekly backup, last monthly backup, last quarterly backup, etc.) and review recovery methods.
  4. Review alternate location options: Identify needs and review options for off-site backup processes.
  5. Staffing minimums: Identify needs throughout recovery time objectives to optimize recovery.
  6. Impact Level: Indicate how severely the process would be impacted considering current/existing mitigation measures (ex. minimal, somewhat severe, severe).
  7. Likelihood Level: Indicating how likely each specific threat could occur considering current/ existing capabilities, mitigation measures, and history.

Once critical business units are identified and the BIA is completed, companies can develop a business continuity plan (BCP). For predictable naturally occurring events such as  severe weather, business continuity planning can minimize potentially dire financial impacts. Such planning should include, but not limited to the following:

  • Conduct awareness training, including facility evacuation routes and procedures
  • Coordinate activities with local and state response agencies
  • Communicate recommended community evacuation routes
  • Procure emergency supplies
  • Monitor radio and/or television reports
  • Secure facility
  • Secure and backup critical electronic files

Preparedness efforts, specific to winter weather, should include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Monitor news and weather reports on television or the radio (with battery backup)
  • Alert employees or others on-site that severe weather is approaching and communicate expectations
  • Be aware of the dangers posed extreme temperatures, and ice and snow falling from equipment and buildings; mediate if possible
  • Identify infrastructure dangers posed by cold weather on exposed piping (hazardous releases, flooding, etc)
  • Prepare and insulate exposed piping
  • Contract snow removal services or obtain the necessary equipment (snow shovels, ice scrapers, rock salt, tire chains, etc.)
  • Ensure that company vehicles have a full tank of gas and are functioning properly (heater, deicing fluid, antifreeze levels, windshield wipers)
  • Ensure flashlights are in proper working order and have additional batteries on site.
  • Monitor ice and snow accumulation on any on site tanks, sheds, or buildings and identify non-hazardous procedures for mitigation.
  • If necessary, obtain generators to re-power facilities or necessary equipment
  • If appropriate, leave water taps slightly open so they drip continuously to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Understand and implement cold weather response techniques when responding to product spills as released product may flow under ice or snow.
  • Establish and maintain communication with personnel
  • Consider limiting vehicle traffic
  • Maintain building temperature at acceptable levels and understand safety measures if using space heaters.
  • Notify supervisors if facility(s) loses power or is otherwise unable to operate
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Tags: Climate Change, Business Continuity key points, Resiliency, Business Continuity Plan, Business Disruption

Disaster Planning for Supply Chain Distruptions

Posted on Thu, Jan 16, 2014

Given the current state of the U.S. infrastructure, an increase in targeted cyber hacking, and the continual occurrence of high-risk scenarios, ensuring supply chain stability should be part of an overall business continuity effort. Profitable operational productivity cannot tolerate unreliable and fleeting supply chains. Companies must continually evaluate Tier 1 suppliers, and establish subsequent tiers for alternate means of necessary resources, materials, and key business components.

The American Productivity & Quality Center (APOC) conducted a survey to examine the concern over supply chain stability involving the following external risk factors:

  • High-impact natural disasters, such as major tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, or floods
  • Extreme weather, such as devastating droughts, wildfires, or cyclones
  • Political turmoil in vitally important world regions

The survey revealed that 83% of organizations surveyed experienced an unexpected supply chain disruption over the previous 24 months.  26% of the organizations revealed that well-managed business continuity plans (BCPs) met their needs. However, 74% of the respondents did not have a business continuity plan that addressed the disruption. Like many others, these organizations were exposed to the disruption of physical assets in their supply chain, whether at a company-owned facility or at a key vendor’s facility.

According to APOC, supply chain disruptions can lead to tenuous operational circumstances. Aside from the straightforward financial impacts attributed to supply chain disjunctions, a break in the supply chain continuity can damage an organization’s reputation and customer relationships. “An organization’s reputation usually demonstrates a certain level of quality, resulting in the ability to command a higher product or service price. If a company’s reputation lessens due to poor risk management, then so does its ability to command a certain price.” (APOC, pg3)

Successful evaluation of supply chain risks in conjunction with an exercised business continuity plan can help improve mitigation and reduce the recovery time from an unforeseen disruption. Emergency managers should pre-identify critical business processes and the resources and equipment necessary for them to be  functional. Through this process, alternatives can be explored and a business continuity plan can be established that reduces the impacts of infrastructure disorder and associated supply chain disruptions.

Site-specific recovery strategies should be developed with the assumption that the supply chain disruption occurred when the services or output are at the highest level and most critical point. By creating continuity plans for the peak business cycle, critical recovery time objectives can be established to minimize impacts, even in the most productive periods of operations.

As a result of the survey, APOC established recommendations to ensure adequate risk mitigation of supply chains:

1. IDENTIFY SUPPLY CHAIN RISK: Identified risks  should be documented and made  visible to company management.

2. ASSESS POTENTIAL IMPACT: Each risk should be assessed for severity and probability.

3. PLAN HOW TO RESPOND TO RISKS: Companies must prioritize planning and establish a business continuity or recovery plan to minimize supply chain downtime. Plans should incorporate attainable recovery time objectives through proven processes and procedures.

4. MONITOR: Monitoring internal and external supply chain risks can allow companies to evaluate new or altered threats, assess potential impacts, and mitigate any potential negative changes. Through continually monitoring, companies can minimize potential impacts, allowing for a competitive advantage over others without a risk management plan.

5. UTILIZE NECESSARY RESOURCES: Support staff should be included in risk management and response planning processes to ensure all available resources are incorporated. An expert consultant can provide an analysis with an external perspective, often identifying risks and potential mitigation measures that were not detected internally.

The APQC is a member-based nonprofit and one of the world’s leading proponents of business benchmarking, best practices, and knowledge management research.

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Tags: Resiliency, Business Risk, Supply Chain, Business Continuity Plan, Disaster Recovery, Business Disruption

The Business Continuity Planning Timeline

Posted on Mon, Nov 11, 2013

Not all business continuity events are instantaneous. Although network disruptions and many emergencies are unforeseeable, instances such as significant weather and other events are often predictable, allowing companies to sequentially initiate business continuity plans, if necessary.

Business continuity planning is an ongoing process that should serve as systematically guide for employees to restore operations that are affected by abnormal conditions. Unfortunately, once a business continuity plan (BCP) has been developed, some companies check it off the list as “completed” project. However, if BCP is to be successfully deployed, it must be periodically reviewed, assessed, and updated according to ebb and flow of its designated operations. Plan development and maintenance efforts are typically aligned with the size, complexity, and volatility of a company, or facility.

Below is a general timeline for business continuity implementation. This timeline is inclusive of predicted events, however, it can be accelerated to account for emergency situations and/or timing disparities.

Weeks leading up to identified events:

  • Execute a business impact analysis (BIA) and review
  • Submit BCP updates for each department, as necessary per the BIA
  • Ensure required information/contact list is accurate
  • Train employees on BCP implementation and restorative operations
  • Make specific recommendations for the yearly training program
  • Identify and coordinate all logistical and administrative resources
  • Identify any additional BCP preparation actions

4 Days from identified event

  • Ensure that all actions required for BCP accuracy are complete
  • Advise the BCP management team regarding the developing situation
  • Establish BCP meeting schedule
  • Set incremental time frame for situational updates
  • Evaluate the need and timetable for BCP implementation
  • Advise department heads/coordinators of BCP intentions regarding the situation
  • If relocating operations, coordinate specifics of the move after initial BCP activation
  • Obtain hotels reservation in alternate location, if applicable
  • Execute the final review of the BCP

Business_Continuity_Plan_TRP.jpg

2 Days (48 hours) from identified event
  • Ensure that all BCP actions required up to this point have been completed
  • If BCP is being implemented, move forward and coordinate implementation procedures
  • If applicable, move operations to alternate site
  • If relocating, review the lodging requirements/assignments with BC staff
  • Review the Communication Plan with staff
  • If evacuation is necessary, communicate expectations to staff

During the event

  • If the event occurs without time for added preparation, immediately implement current BCP procedures
  • Confirm all preparedness activities and required actions for implementation are complete
  • Coordinate operations from alternate site
  • Communicate with Department Heads/Coordinators regarding BCP level/status
  • Produce status reports and distribute to BC management team
  • Produce status reports/press releases for stakeholders, clients, and media
  • Generate information bulletins for employees and contractors

Recovery/Post event

  • Ensure all departments are able to implement a full recovery
  • Receive completed status reports and updates from department coordinators
  • If necessary, mitigate any requirements from critical business units to ensure full recovery
  • If applicable and safe, relocate to original operational site
  • If necessary, continue to coordinate recovery operations from alternate site
  • Organize documentation of all executed actions for review and historical record
  • Communicate current BCP level, or deactivation readiness
  • Review expenditures and submit expense reports
  • Prepare the final report, and send to corporate BCP coordinator
  • Review reports and conduct debrief meetings to identify lessons learned
  • Update BCP with lessons learned
  • Schedule BCP training to review updated BCP procedures

 

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Tags: Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Extreme Weather, Business Continuity Plan, BCM Metrics

Business Continuity and Emergency Response Planning Acronyms

Posted on Mon, Oct 21, 2013

Acronyms are a shorthand communication method used within the emergency management industry. This list of common acronyms is often used in response plans and/or business continuity plans. Those utilizing these plans should be familiar with the language.

ACP

Area Contingency Plan

API

American Petroleum Institute

BBL

Barrel

BCP

Business Continuity Plan

BLEVE

Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion

BIA

Business Impact Analysis

BOP

Blowout Preventer

BPD

Barrels per Day

BSSE

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

BST

Business Support Team

CAER

Community Awareness and Emergency Response

CFR

Code of Federal Regulations

CM

Crisis Manager

CMT

Crisis Management Team

COTP

Captain of the Port

CP

Command Post

CWA

Clean Water Act

DOM

Dock Operations Manual

DOT

Department of Transportation

DR

Disaster Recovery

DWT

Deadweight Tons

E&P

Exploration and Production

EAP

Emergency Action Plan

EMT

Emergency Management Team

EOC

Emergency Operations Center

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency

EPCRA

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act

EPZ

Emergency Planning Zone

ERAP

Emergency Response Action Plan

ERP

Emergency Response Plan

ETA

Estimated Time of Arrival

FOG

Field Operations Guide

FOSC

Federal On-Scene Coordinator

FPP

Fire Pre-Plan

FRP

Facility Response Plan

FSC

Finance Section Chief

GOM

Gulf of Mexico

GPM

Gallons Per Minute

HAZMAT

Hazardous Materials

HAZWOPER

Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response

HMIS

Hazardous Material Information System

H2S

Hydrogen Sulfide

IBRRC

International Bird Rescue Research Center

IAP

Incident Action Plan

IC

Incident Commander

ICP

Incident Command Post, Integrated Contingency Plan

ICS

Incident Command System

IDLH

Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health

IMO

International Marine Organization

IMT

Incident Management Team

IPIECA

International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association

JIC

Joint Information  Center

LEL

Lower Explosive Level

LEL

Lower Explosive Limit

LEPC

Local Emergency Planning Committee

LEPD

Local Emergency Planning District

LNG

Liquefied Natural Gas

LPG

Liquefied Petroleum Gas

LSC

Logistic Section Chief

MOU

Memorandum of Understanding

MSDS

Material Safety Data Sheet

NCP

National Contingency Plan

NGL

Natural Gas Liquid

NIMS

National Incident Management System

NIOSH

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

NM

Nautical Miles

NOAA

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NPDES

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

NRC

National Response Center

NRDA

National Resource Damage Assessment

NRS

National Response System

NRT

National Response Team

OPA 90

Oil Pollution Act of 1990

OSC

On-Scene Coordinator/Commander, Operations Section Chief

OSHA

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSRO

Oil Spill Removal Organization

OSRP

Oil Spill Response Plan

PE

Professional Engineer

PFD

Personal Flotation Device

PHMSA

Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration

PIAT

Public Information Assistance Team

PIO

Public Information Officer

POB

Persons on Board

PPE

Personal Protective Equipment

PREP

Preparedness for Response Exercise Program

PRP

Pandemic Response Plan

PSC

Planning Section Chief

PSI

Pounds per Square Inch

QI

Qualified Individual

RCT

Regional Crisis Team

ROC

Record of Changes

RPO

Recovery Point Objective

RTO

Recovery Time Objective

RP

Responsible Party

RRC

Regional Response Centers

RRT

Regional Response Team (Federal)

RRI

Regional Resource Inventory

SAR

Search and Rescue

SARA

Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act

SCAT

Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team

SCBA

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus

SERC

State Emergency Response Commission

SITREP

Situation Report Message

SMT

Spill Management Team

SOLAS

Safety of Life at Sea

SONS

Spill of National Significance

SOPEP

Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan

SOSC

State On-Scene Coordinator

SOT

Standard Operating Procedure

SPCC

Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan

SSC

Scientific Support Coordinator

SSSP

Site Specific Safety & Health Plan

SWD

Saltwater Disposal

UCS

Unified Command System

USCG

United States Coast Guard

WCD

Worst Case Discharge

WHO

World Health Organization

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Emergency Management, Response Plans, Crisis Management, Oil Spill, Emergency Response Planning, Communication Plan, Business Continuity Plan, Disaster Response, National Preparedness