Ready! Blog Mini-Series: Program Management

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Last week, we acknowledged September as National Preparedness Month, which is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. We also announced Send Word Now’s latest blog mini-series, designed to focus on FEMA’s “Ready” public education outreach campaign as it relates to business resilience.

In this post, we’ll cover Step 1 – Program Management – the core of any comprehensive and successful emergency preparedness program.

As indicated on FEMA’s website, www.ready.gov, businesses can do much to prepare for the impact of the many hazards faced in today’s world. These include man-made and natural disasters, security breaches and acts of workplace violence, among countless other emergency situations.

“Ready Business” assists companies in developing preparedness programs by providing tools to create plans that address the impact of these critical events through an “all-hazards” approach.

Step one of any preparedness program should be built upon a foundation of management leadership, commitment and financial support. Without management commitment and financial support, it is difficult, at best, to build a program, maintain resources and keep things up to date. Your organization will inevitably come up short in a crisis.

Regulations (laws and authorities for emergency management and business continuity) may establish minimum requirements, but businesses must independently determine just how much risk can be tolerated. A preparedness policy that is consistent with the mission and vision of the company should be written, disseminated and understood by management. This policy should define individual and group roles and responsibilities, and should authorize selected employees to develop the program, as well as sustain it.

Goals and objectives of the overall program should also be set. These typically include:
– Protecting the safety of employees, visitors, contractors and others at risk from hazards at the facility
– Maintaining customer service by minimizing interruptions or disruptions of business operations
– Protecting facilities, physical assets and electronic information
– Preventing environmental contamination
– Protecting the organization’s brand, image and reputation

A program committee assisting in the development, implementation and maintenance of the emergency preparedness program should be established, and a program coordinator should be appointed to lead the group.

Performance objectives should be set for all aspects of the program, including hazard prevention, risk mitigation, emergency response and business continuity. And, the preparedness program should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it continually meets current laws and regulations, and supports overall business resilience needs.

Among these performance objectives should be the successful execution of your organization’s critical communications strategy. The strategy could – and should – support:
– Immediate, two-way, and in certain instances, location-based communication
– Multimodal voice and text alerting via phones (landlines and mobile), email, SMS, etc.
– Intelligent, “needs-based” mobilization of management, emergency response teams and others
– Conformity with existing and organization-accepted critical communications procedures
– Integration with third-party business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) tools
– Comprehensive reporting throughout an emergency’s lifecycle

We, at Send Word Now, are confident that our award-winning Alerting Service (recently recognized by DRI International as “Notification System of the Year”) can help fulfill the critical communications requirements of your company’s own emergency preparedness program. Join us in recognizing September as National Preparedness Month, and take advantage of this opportunity to bolster your organization’s readiness and response capabilities. _