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Combat Complacency: 12 Cost/Benefit Emergency Management Objectives

Posted on Thu, Nov 12, 2015

Companies that experience extended periods of incident-free, operational continuity, often develop a dulled sense of vulnerability that impedes response planning and preparedness. EHS managers must continually address complacency and fluctuating real-world potential issues, site-specific risks, and regulatory compliance within set budgets. Securing the status quo when daily operations and external influences can provoke everything from critical incidents to catastrophic disasters presents a continuous balancing act for EHS managers.

The challenge of sustaining effective safety and preparedness levels is often met with budget justifications for intervention, prevention, and response planning. However, the cost of complacency and stagnation is typically higher than the cost of advancing and implementing safety, preparedness, and response planning initiatives.

EHS budget justifications are often plagued by challenging internal and external factors. Internal challenges often include profitability, shareholder value, and cost control measures. These factors often propel management to question the likelihood of profit/loss scenarios. Additionally, regulatory compliance mitigation opportunities and response planning initiatives are often sacrificed during this process. However, one ineffectively handled emergency or crisis situation can cost a company many times the cost of implementing and maintaining an effective program.

External factors such as regulatory compliance, high-risk locations, shifting labor markets, and emerging competitors can increase the complexity and cost of overall operations. However, these external factors also introduce the potential for additional costs related to fines, emergencies, crises, and business continuity issues. Without a proactive approach to preparedness and response planning, reactionary costs will eventually overtake the cost savings of an effective program.

A detailed emergency management program cost-benefit analysis can highlight the potential cost savings of an effective program and communicate the various threats to operational continuity and longevity. Prevention, mitigation, and planning costs should be compared with the financial impact of situational recovery processes and the overall costs of an incident. The analysis should identify and evaluate low, medium, and high impact likely scenarios, associated response expenditures, and total estimated recovery costs including, but are not limited to:

  • Impacts on employees
  • Short term or long term business interruption
  • Regulatory fines or mandated shutdown for non-compliance
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Equipment failure
  • Inventory/stock losses
  • Reputation
  • Environmental damage

A thorough emergency management program review and response plan audits can reveal specific deficiencies and identify areas for program improvement. These deficiencies should be prioritized, quantified for mitigation, and included in a long-term budget plan. In addition to fulfilling a moral responsibility to protect employees, the community, and the environment, an effective and exercised emergency management program should meet certain key strategic and tactical objectives in order to be cost beneficial. Objectives should include, but are not limited to:

  1. Enhancing employee safety to minimize harm
  2. Facilitating compliance with Federal, State, and Local regulatory requirements, eliminating the threat of potential fines.
  3. Reducing the potential for infrastructure and property damage
  4. Enhancing the ability to recover from business interruption and loss
  5. Reducing indirect business interruption loss (ex. supply chain “ripple” effects)
  6. Reducing environmental damage
  7. Enhancing a company’s image and credibility with employees, customers, suppliers and the community.
  8. Reducing community damage and impacts (ex. historic sites, schools, neighborhoods)
  9. Minimizing societal losses (ex. casualties, injuries, layoffs)
  10. Reducing need for costly emergency response
  11. Reducing exposure to civil or criminal liability in the event of an incident.
  12. Potentially reducing insurance premiums (check with individual insurance providers for associated savings).

Over the long term, emergency management complacency becomes expensive and has a negative effect on corporate preparedness and response planning. By properly budgeting and continuously evaluating incident mitigation opportunities, improving response capabilities and quantifying regulatory compliance, EHS managers can reduce the costs associated with incidents and contribute to the longevity of a company.

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

 

Tags: Resiliency, Workplace Safety, corporate preparedness

Business Continuity Planning Until Infrastructure Resilience Secured

Posted on Wed, May 13, 2015

For the power, oil, and natural gas industries, a growing array of physical and electronic threats, coupled with decaying infrastructures and strained budgets is a recipe for disaster. Over the past few years, countless broadcasts of threats, risks, and actual incidents have been reported. From computer system hackings to gas pipeline failures, the energy industry is under continuous pressure to preserve and upgrade the resiliency of our critical infrastructures. However, until resilience is secured and infrastructures have been upgraded, companies must continue to prioritize safety and preparedness best practices.

Reliable operations are crucial to the economic stability of companies, communities, and commerce. There has been a surge by public and private stakeholders to identify steps to improve the cyber resilience of computer-based systems that manage operational processes in the power, oil, and natural gas industries. These industries are also keenly aware of the inherited deteriorating infrastructures that support their operations.

Until effective, sustainable policies, regulatory compliance initiatives, and corporate budgets embrace widespread modernization and effectively mitigate for infrastructure resilience, companies should ensure emergency management programs and business continuity plans are current and effective. In an effort to maximize preparedness and minimize inherent risks, an emergency management program should provide:

  • A system for assessing and prioritizing incidents
  • Streamlined and standardized response methods
  • Communication and notification procedures
  • Roles and responsibilities for corporate and incident level response teams
  • Optimized training, drills and exercises
  • A demonstrated commitment to safety

According to experts, the maze of infrastructure that support the energy industries and end users requires extensive upgrades to effectively meet the nation’s energy demands. Ensuring the resilience, reliability, safety, and security of energy transmission, storage, and distribution (TS&D) infrastructure is vital.

According to the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), the TS&D, “includes approximately 2.6 million miles of interstate and intrastate pipelines; 414 natural gas storage facilities; 330 ports handling crude petroleum and refined petroleum products; and more than 140,000 miles of railways that handle crude petroleum, refined petroleum products, LNG and coal.”

The QER was developed to identify the threats, risks, and opportunities for U.S. energy and climate security. The goal of the review is to enable the federal government to translate policy goals into a set of integrated actions. In April 2015, the QER recommended the following actions:

  • Establish a competitive program to accelerate pipeline replacement and enhance maintenance programs for natural gas distribution systems. The Department of Energy should establish a program to provide financial assistance to:
    • Incentivize cost-effective improvements in the safety and environmental performance of natural gas distribution systems
    • Enhance direct inspection and maintenance programs
  • Update and expand state energy assurance plans. The Department of Energy should establish a program to provide financial assistance to:
    • Improve the capacity of states and localities to identify potential energy disruptions, quantify their impacts, share information, and develop and exercise comprehensive plans that respond to those disruptions and reduce the threat of future disruptions.
    • Establish a competitive grant program to promote innovative solutions to enhance energy infrastructure resilience, reliability, and security.

Facility and supply chain management should be a crucial aspect of business continuity planning. At a minimum, the following planning considerations should be taken into account in order to safeguard critical operations:

  • Establish preventive inspection and maintenance schedules for all systems and equipment. 
  • Ensure that key safety and maintenance personnel are thoroughly familiar with all building systems, such as alarms, utility shutoffs, elevators, etc.
  • Establish company-wide computer security, download, and backup practices in order to secure technologies and communications networks.
  • Determine the impact of service disruptions and mitigate if possible (generators, fuel, relocating inventory, back up suppliers etc.) 
  • Establish procedures for restoring systems. 

NOTE: The April 2015 QAR can be read in its entirety here.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Business Continuity, Resiliency, Emergency Management Program

Corporate Crisis Management Plans and Team Roles

Posted on Thu, Dec 18, 2014

Corporate crises come in a variety of forms, ranging from social media glitches to mass casualty situations. Regardless of the circumstances, every crisis has the potential to negatively impact a company’s short and long-term reputation, daily operations, and financial performance. Resolutions require a prepared crisis management plan with flexible, yet pre-identified responses and actions. Informative communication and proactive, actionable procedures can minimize the impacts associated with corporate crises.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”. -Warren Buffett

A properly developed and implemented crisis management plan can result in:

  • Crisis resolution
  • Continuation of business as usual
  • A preserved, or possibly enhanced corporate reputation
  • Financial sustainability

It is critical that a basic crisis management planning framework, response measures, and communication strategies be established and exercised before a crisis actually occurs. Most successful responses result from a prepared strategy, with a cooperative understanding of the incident, response roles, and assigned responsibilities. Since each crisis is unique and comes with varying degrees of impact, each crisis must be evaluated and resolved individually based on:

  • The potential impact on current and potential clients and customers
  • The potential impact to employees and the company
  • Stakeholders interested in the outcome of the incident
  • The level of control the company has over the situation
  • Complexity of the crisis and specialists required

A crisis management team (CMT) may be activated for any situation that involves a threat to people or property, a business interruption that could have a negative financial impact, or an incident that may result in damage to the company's reputation and/or financial well being. CMTs, often comprised of a small group of senior managers, typically respond, coordinate, and set necessary actions in play according to the specific crisis situations. The team members should be trained to manage an array of potential crises, additional risks and exposures, and management stakeholder interests.

Depending on the crisis planning and crisis management requirements, the following CMT roles may provide a company with the essential functions necessary to manage crisis situations.

  • Crisis Manager: Approves the Crisis Management Plan and provide overall leadership
  • Security Manager: Reviews and revises the plan on necessary security related procedures
  • Public Affairs Advisor: Participates in all aspects of Crisis Communications
  • Medical Advisor: Assess and assists in human health impacts of crises
  • Human Resource Advisor: Maintains a current, accessible contact list of all employees, contract employees, and responders
  • Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Advisor: Coordinates the implementation, training, and updating of Incident Response Plans
  • Legal Advisor: Ensures the availability of legal representative related to crises
  • Crisis Management Advisor: Supervises and coordinates necessary CMT support roles.  Individuals may be assigned to work directly under any core CMT position to fill a specific need. Support roles may include:
    • Aide(s): Administrative resource(s)
    • Business Unit Advisor(s): Anticipates Business Unit issues, develops strategic plans to proactively address these issues, and adjust staffing of Business Unit Group and to suit evolving needs
    • Subject Matter Expert(s): Be available to assist crisis manager on as “as needed” basis.

If the crisis warrants, the pre-identified crisis team would be responsible for developing media strategy, public statements, and key messages, as well as identifying and briefing one or more spokespersons to deliver the pre-approved messages to media outlets. A specific individual or individuals should be assigned to media/public relations to ensure messaging consistency and information availability.

While the specific circumstances will define a crisis response strategy, basic communications processes typically remain consistent. Companies must be tuned into the vast digital network of social chatter. Viral rumors and antagonistic communications can often be inhibited with a timely, factual, and proactive crisis communications campaign.

For a free download on crisis management, click here or the image below:

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Resiliency, Crisis Management, Facility Management, Event Preparedness

Response Plan Tip: Ensure Processes and Communications Equipment Align

Posted on Thu, Nov 27, 2014

The fastest way to turn an incident, crisis, or emergency into a prolonged disaster is to experience a communications breakdown.  In order to minimize impacts and rapidly respond to circumstances, companies must ensure communication processes and procedures are clearly defined and understood, and associated equipment is functional.

While every effort should be made to train employees on response processes and procedures for probable emergency scenarios relevant to your operations, training employees on initial site-specific responses included in your response plan is fundamental to your emergency management program. The need to swiftly communicate accurate and pertinent information is common to all emergency scenarios, despite operational function. Information, at a minimum should include:

  • Contact number to initiate report and response needs
  • Location of incident
  • Type of incident (medical, fire, oil spill, etc.)
  • Casualties or injured parties

The initial responder, or first person on-scene, will be the first initiator of emergency communications. While this individual may have extensive training and response knowledge, most likely, the initial responder is not specifically trained for response. As a result, all employees should be trained in initial response processes, procedures, and communication expectations.  Individuals who demonstrate a clear understanding of the communication plan, emergency procedures, and assigned responsibilities are better prepared to implement effective communication and initiate a streamlined response. Detailed information should be readily available to facility personnel to ensure all emergency managers, response personnel, and applicable agencies (ex. National Response Center) are quickly notified in the event of an incident.

Once initial response processes and procedures are established, ongoing communication is critical in order to assess, direct, and respond to the incident. Facilities must have standardized and exercised modes of communicating.  The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) describes standard communications response equipment options that may be used during an incident, emergency, or disaster. The following options range from basic to state-or the art technology:

Runners: Individuals carrying written messages from one location to another. 

LIMITATIONS:

  • Distance and time
  • Requires written information for accuracy
  • Availability
  • Requires familiarity with the area

Landline telephones: Analog and digital phones connected by physical lines. (Note: Some telephone service providers utilize modems for connecting landlines. Check with your individual service provider)

LIMITATIONS
  • Not mobile
  • System overloads easily
  • Network susceptible to physical damage
  • May be affected by power failure

Cellular/Smart phones: Mobile digital phones connected by signals transmitted by cellular towers. Capable of transmitting short messaging service (SMS). In many cases text messages will go through when your call may not.

LIMITATIONS
  • Towers may fail due to power outage or damage
  • System overloads easily
  • Requires knowledge of responder phone numbers
  • May be dependent on landlines

Satellite Phone: Mobile phones that use signals transmitted by satellites.  If other phone systems are down, can only communicate locally with other satellite phones  

LIMITATIONS

  • Expensive
  • Requires visibility to sky or building with compatible antenna
  • Potential diminished voice quality or latency

Two-way radios: Handheld, mobile, or base-station radios used for communicating on radio frequencies; many require licensure by the FCC. Below are a few examples of the different two-way radio types as described by FEMA:

RELIABILITY:

  • Family Radio Service (FRS): Have a very limited range; useful only for intra-team communications
  • General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS): Have a greater range than FRS radios and signals can be improved with antennas and repeaters
  • Multiple-Use Radio Service (MURS): Only 5 channels available for use
  • Citizen Band (CB): Have 40 channels and affordabl

LIMITATIONS:

  • Family Radio Service (FRS): Cannot alter radio (no antennas) = limited range
  • General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS):
    • Requires a license (one per family)
    • Intended for family use
    • Some business licenses are grandfathered
  • Multiple-Use Radio Service (MURS): More expensive than FRS/GMRS radio
  • Citizen Band (CB):  Limited range

Computer-based communications: Information may be transmitted over the Internet or with runners via USB drives

LIMITATIONS:
  • May require internet connectivity
  • Requires specific hardware
  • Requires power source for long use although solar power options are becoming increasingly available and affordable.

In the event Internet connectivity is terminated or inaccessible, emergency managers must have alternative means to access plans. Redundant data-centers, scheduled downloads, and ancillary security measures must be a part of any emergency management program based on an intranet or cloud.

Internet availability enables additional emergency communications through social media. From communicating facility closures in the event of bad weather or evacuation orders as a result of a hazardous spill, greater Internet accessibility allows for companies to streamline emergency communications to a wider audience with minimal administrative effort.

NOTE: The National Response Center (NRC) is the sole federal point of contact for spills of hazardous materials. NRC, which is staffed on a 24-hour basis, was given the responsibility of receiving incident reports involving hazardous materials regulated under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act for the transportation of hazardous materials (49 CFR 171), for natural gas and other gases transported by pipeline (49 CFR 191), and for liquids transported by pipeline (49 CFR 195). All facilities involved in these activities should include the National Response Center reporting number, (800) 424-8802, in the notification section of an emergency response plan.

For a free download on Best Pratices for Crisis Management, click the image below:

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Power Failure, Resiliency, Communication Plan, Social Media, Disaster Response, Notification Systems

Global Response Planning Extends Beyond Operational Hazards

Posted on Thu, Oct 09, 2014

Current world events, such as the Ebola outbreak, ISIS threats, and Super Typhoon Vongfong continue to alter the focus of emergency management. With each pandemic, security crisis, natural disaster, or emergency incident, a renewed emphasis on specific preparedness initiatives and associated countermeasures evolves. Despite site-specific operation hazards, a well-developed response plan should examine all risks and vulnerability factors in order to provide employees with the knowledge, procedures, and resources necessary to respond appropriately to any situation.

When companies expand globally, identifying, evaluating, mitigating, and planning for continually evolving location-specific risks and vulnerabilities is challenging. Those with the responsibility of global preparedness and planning must address site-specific regulatory compliance measures, inherent risks (including operational and location-specific), technological and physical security needs, and each operational response plan component. Cultural disparities, infrastructure challenges, or security provocations may leave sites vulnerable to particular events and heighten the urgency of preparedness initiatives and planning efforts.

Preparedness, operational sustainability, and employee safety requires a streamlined, coordinated, and exercised response plan. Response plans must be developed to account for each potential emergency and non-emergency scenario that could impact or cause damage to a particular facility or its operations.  Aside from innate operational hazards, both physical site security and electronic security must be considered in preparedness measures. (Note: A security breach is just as likely to come in the form of a computer hacker or virus as it is from an actual intrusion, uprising, or physical attack.)

While emergency scenarios may affect the safety and health of employees, operations, and/or the facility infrastructure, non-emergency situations can arise that potentially impact company reputation and operational longevity.  A poorly managed situation can negatively affect a company’s reputation, business interests, and relationship with key regulators and partners.

Below are some crisis management situations that could affect business continuity for companies with multinational facilities. Business continuity and crisis management plans should be developed for each of these scenarios that could likely cause significant damage to the business.

Environmental Stewardship: Disparity in international, country, state, county and corporate environmental standards.  Environmental regulations may vary regarding:

  • Facility or site requirements
  • Transportation
  • Hazardous spills
  • Equipment safety
  • Fire fighting methods
  • Gas releases

Natural Disasters: Each geographic location has specific historical and potential natural threats.

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Sand/wind storms
  • Tornados
  • Flooding
  • Tsunami

Employee issues: While every facility must prepared for potential employee issues, global companies must pay specific attention to:

  • Cultural differences
  • Language barriers
  • Labor relations challenges
  • Workplace discrimination or harassment
  • Disgruntled workers
  • Health and safety disparagements

Marketing: Global markets and unethical business practices can create non-emergency scenarios resulting in the need for crisis management:

  • Price gouging
  • Supply availability
  • Recalls
  • Deceptive business practices

Security Breach: A security breach can affect multiple aspects of a company, from business continuity to the physical safety of employees.

  • Computer hacking
  • Catastrophic IT failure
  • Facility security measures
  • Civil unrest
  • Personnel/employee security

Corporate Governance:  Corporate changes can initiate unrest, disrupt operations, and company reputation:

  • Mergers
  • Organizational restructuring
  • Downsizing
  • Facility closings
  • Management successions/promotions
  • Financial reporting integrity

Industry/Sector Issues: As industry specific equipment, regulatory advancements, and technologies evolve, preparedness should continually adapt to include safety processes, continuity procedures and best practices.

  • Supply disruptions
  • Punitive regulations

Illegal Activity: Faults in humanity may be intensified by location specific conditions, supply and demand, and/or greed. Preparedness measures should include business continuity and crisis management procedure for the following circumstances:

  • Extortion
  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Malfeasance
  • Criminal Investigation

Political/Social issues: As companies strive to be profitable, political and social issues can interfere with daily operations. Situations that may affect productivity include, but are not limited to:

  • Human rights
  • Terrorism
  • War
  • Political or social unrest
  • Economic disparity
  • Discrimination
 

Have locations across the globe? Download TRP Corp's free guide,"Response Planning for Large Organizations with Multi-Facility Operations".

Multiple Facility Response Planning Company Preparedness Guide DOWNLOAD

Tags: Social Unrest, Business Continuity, Resiliency, Crisis Management, Incident Management, Terrorism Threat Management, Workplace Safety

The Business Impact Analysis: A Step Towards Business Continuity

Posted on Thu, Sep 18, 2014

Companies may not consider the interdependencies between critical operations, departments, personnel, and services until an event disrupts normal operations. A Business Impact Analysis (BIA), a key component in business continuity planning, presents the ability to identify and quantify which business unit that, when absent, would significantly impact a company. While the size and complexity of essential business elements required for sustainability varies among industries, companies, and specific facilities, the ability to quantify and prioritize critical workflow components is a key business continuity element.

Critical business units, associated functions, and a trained workforce provide the greatest financial value to companies. Companies that prioritize process sustainability initiatives that can meet recovery time objectives have a better chance of minimizing impacts of impeding disruptions.

Within each key business unit, additional business functions should be considered and evaluated. By identifying cross business unit dependencies, the need for integrated risk mitigation solutions can be highlighted and proactive measures can be taken. A workflow analysis may prioritize those business functions and processes that must be recovered in order for business continuity plans to be effective. Functions within each business unit may include, but are not limited to:

  •  Finance 
  • Contracts 
  • Supply and trading 
  • Personnel and payroll 
  • Benefits 
  • Accounts payable
  • Environmental health and safety 
  • Information technology

Once critical business functions and workflows are assessed and prioritized, a BIA should be performed.  The goal of the analysis should be to identify the potential impacts of identified risks, uncontrolled threats, and potential non-specific events on these business functions and dynamic processes. Any potential resilience capabilities should be prioritized and mitigation opportunities should be examined.  Operational and process managers should explore and quantify the following aspects to initiate the BIA process:

Timing:

  • Identify critical operational time periods when an interruption would have greater impacts (seasonal, end of quarter, specific month, etc.).
  • Priorities should be determined if an interruption during high-output timeframes creates amplified operational and financial impacts.

Likelihood Level:

  • Indicate how likely each specific threat could occur, considering existing capabilities, mitigation measures, and history.

Duration:

  • Identify the duration and point in time when an interruption would impair operational processes and have financial impact.
  • Estimate the maximum allowable downtime for each specific business function
  • Consider downtime impacts from less than 1 hour to greater than one month

BCP duration: TRP CORP

Staffing minimums:

  • Identify staffing level requirements (including contractors or suppliers) to meet typical daily productivity goals, as well as recovery time objectives.

Operational Impacts:

  • Identify the effects associated with a business unit interruption, considering existing mitigation measures. These may include, but are not limited to:
    • Lost sales and income
    • Negative cash flow resulting from delayed sales or income
    • Increased expenses due to overtime, outsourcing or other operations that increase costs
    • Regulatory fines and legal implications
    • Contractual penalties or loss of contractual bonuses
    • Customer dissatisfaction or withdrawal
    • Delay of business plan execution or strategic initiatives

Recovery Time:

  • Identify the time frame necessary to recover specific critical processes under existing capabilities and, if possible, potentially altered conditions.

Financial Impact:

  • Determine and quantify financial impacts,  considering existing mitigation measures.
  • Critical functions that have the highest financial impacts should be prioritized in business continuity plans.

If a business continuity incident affects two or more business processes, the incident has a greater potential for impact. Interoperable communication and coordination among departments must be exercised for a swift recovery. The effects of a multi-tiered business continuity event can extend beyond the facility borders to affect personnel, multiple critical business processes, vendors or suppliers, and customers.

Adverse information technology (IT) conditions may affect numerous company departments, units and functions. IT components may include networks, servers, desktop and laptop computers and wireless devices. The ability to utilize both office productivity and enterprise-wide software may be essential to restore normal operations. Therefore, time critical recovery strategies for information technology, such as exercised data backup and restoration procedures, should be developed in order to limit the effects of interruptions across multiple business units.

Once critical business units are identified and the BIA is completed, companies can develop an applicable business continuity plan, ensuring a faster state of recovery.

Click HERE or the image below for a free download on Enterprise-Wide Response Planning.

Multiple Facility Response Planning Company Preparedness Guide DOWNLOAD

Tags: Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Resiliency, Business Risk, Redundant Systems, Business Continuity Plan

Renovating the Framework of Emergency Management and Incident Response

Posted on Tue, Aug 26, 2014

The modernization of communication technologies has trickled down to the frameworks of emergency management. On July 29, 2014, the 'White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day” brought together the disaster response community and innovative entrepreneurs from across the country in the hopes of integrating technological advances with preparedness and disaster response efforts.

As the connectivity of the world increases, EHS programs and emergency managers are embracing collaborative and innovative preparedness and response initiatives. However, in order to germinate or sustain an ongoing culture of preparedness, companies must prioritize funding to incorporate new and relevant systems, training, and/or equipment. Unless mandated by regulatory authorities, many companies delay best practice and technological initiatives until an incident propels response planning to the forefront.

According to the Disaster Recovery Planning Benchmark Survey: 2014 Annual Report, “more than 60% of those who took the survey do not have a fully documented disaster recovery (DR) plan and another 40% admitted that the DR plan they currently have did not prove very useful when it was called on to respond to their worst disaster recovery event or scenario.

As the “Y” or the “Millennial” generation” (those born between 1980’s and 2000) continues to enter the workforce, emerging technologies will become more ingrained into society and the workplace. These educated and tech savvy individuals accustomed to fast-paced technological advancements consider technology as an essential aspect in their lives. Based on current trends, upcoming generations will be acclimated to instantaneous communication and data extraction from any location. Text, social media, and web-based technologies will be expected as commonplace emergency management frameworks, rather than the traditional means that most companies still utilize today. In order to integrate societal norms and stay relevant with upcoming generations of employees, emergency management and disaster response framework must be aligned with currently available utilized tools.

Statistics suggest that every dollar invested in disaster preparedness yields savings of $4–$11 in disaster response, relief, and recovery.” The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Just as computers replaced typewriters to expand productivity, web-based response systems are replacing one-dimensional paper-based plans. Web-based response systems offer a greater streamlined functionality, renovated efficiency, and varied accessibility when compared with traditional paper-based plans.  Web-based planning system software offers every option of instant accessibility: viewed via the Internet from any location, downloaded, or printed. Increasing accessibility options while improving efficiency, functionality, and effectiveness can bolster an entire emergency management program.

In order for new functionalities to be introduced to the workplace, emergency managers often are required to justify the initial investment. A cost-benefit analysis of a renovated emergency management program can highlight the potential cost savings of an effective program. Any prevention, mitigation, or plan maintenance costs should be compared with the financial impact of situational recovery processes and the overall costs of an incident. These costs may include, but are not limited to:

  • Human life
  • Short term or long term business interruption
  • Lawsuit(s)
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Equipment failure
  • Inventory/stock losses
  • Fines
  • Reputation
  • Environmental destruction

The relevance of innovative techniques and lessons learned should be continually evaluated and incorporated into an emergency preparedness program if appropriate.  While often suppressed in favor of short-term profits, budgets for pertinent emergency management initiatives should be prioritized for long-term corporate sustainability. But “change for change’s sake” does not typically enhance programs. The evolution process of an emergency management program should aim to perpetuate improved responses and operational recovery times, and enhance company viability despite crisis scenarios.

For a free download on essential preparedness measures, click here or on the image below.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Tactical Response Planning, Emergency Management, Resiliency, Incident Management, Emergency Management Program, Communication Plan, Social Media

Incorporating Business Continuity into Industrial Settings

Posted on Thu, Aug 21, 2014

As complex, advanced technologies, systems, and networks become ingrained in industrial operations and processes, the potential impacts from even minor disruptions increases. Industrial companies that prepare for a large variety of disruptions can limit its impact on business processes and accelerate the return to normal operations. For those not prepared, a targeted incident can become an escalated situation, negatively affecting profitability, customer relationships, and overall business performance. Business continuity plans (BCP) are crucial to ensure long-term viability, yet many industrial companies do not prioritize them.

Many business continuity issues can start as minor, isolated instances or aggravating inconveniences. However, if not addressed in a timely manner, incidents can escalate, potentially spreading to other key processes. With an effective BCP, mitigation measures, and proper employee training, potential disruptions and operational impacting events can be prevented.

Regardless of the size of your enterprise or scope of facility operations, industrial locations should have the following continuity elements in place.

  • Standard procedures and assigned responsibilities regarding risk management, restoration, and IT recovery for each critical business area.
  • A BIA (Business Impact Analysis)
  • A risk assessment that identifies and prioritizes operational imposing scenarios
  • Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) based on cost-benefit analyses and BIAs
  • Documented BCP with response, recovery, and restoration procedures
  • BCP exercises aimed at improving RTOs and strategies by ensuring plans are accurate, actionable, and thorough
  • Audits that test corporate-level standardization and policy implementations
  • BCP training for managers and employees

The process of developing a BCP can identify continuity weaknesses within an enterprise and at specific facilities, as well as lapses within individual responsibility and operational processes. To strengthen the prospects of corporate viability, planning and training should include detailed standard operating procedures for BCP activation and address RTOs for each key business process. The BCP should offer procedural flexibility based on real-time situational assessment, as well as procedural variations for each scenario. Precise, site-specific, and accurate BCPs in conjunction with effective training and carefully planned exercises can often counteract a lack of general continuity awareness.

Many industrial facilities managers typically have expertise in proper hazard communications and emergency response techniques. However, industrial facility managers and their employees may lack business continuity experience and necessary expertise. If establishing BCPs or initiating continuity efforts are beyond the scope of managers, companies should consider hiring consultants who specialize in business continuity planning.

Employees who are trained in daily continuity procedures, in addition to response and restorative continuity methods will be better prepared in the event of a business-interrupting incident. By incorporating business continuity training, companies can expand their resilience strategies while minimizing risks to their employees, operations, reputation, and the financial bottom line.

BCP training should include a detailed account of specific roles and responsibilities. This will ensure continuity of knowledge among participants, enterprise-wide standard operating procedures, and site-specific business continuity processes. Companies should also be vigilant in training new hires, as well as be receptive to unique business continuity lesson learned that can be used to strengthen the BCP.

Although all companies should prepared for inevitable business disruptions, industrial facilities typically have heightened levels of vulnerabilities. In an industrial setting, hazards are often identified in order for potential impacts to be fully analyzed and countermeasures to be implemented. For business continuity strategies, a business impact analysis (BIA) can identify, quantify, and qualify the impacts in time of a loss, interruption or disruption of business activities on an organization, and provides the data from which appropriate continuity strategies can be determined.  

Whether business disruptions stem from technological, man-made, or natural disasters, business continuity plans can be a valuable tool for protecting viability, securing resources, and maintaining customer relationships.

Click on the image below to download TRP Corp's free Industrial Preparedness white paper.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: BCM Standards, Business Continuity, Resiliency, Training and Exercises, Business Continuity Plan, Business Disruption

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.

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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.

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