During the past few months, Security magazine has run a series of articles about the business continuity planning process. We covered how to conduct pre-planning, including business impact analyses. We also demonstrated how to develop the best planning strategies, deal with emergency response and operations, and how to effectively implement business continuity plans. Now we come to the post-planning phase of business continuity. These post-planning activities are designed to ensure that organizations have the proper state of readiness to implement a business continuity plan when needed, and that systems are in place to coordinate with external public authorities and other organizations when necessary.

This column focuses on developing awareness and training programs internally to create and maintain corporate awareness and enhance the skills required to implement a business continuity management program.

The first step is to define the difference between awareness and training. Awareness is the state of simply knowing something through observation; training is the more intensive process of learning processes and methods to deal with a situation.

To ensure full awareness of the business continuity plan, all employees, from top executives to managers to front-line employees, must be informed of the following:

  • Key components of the business continuity plan

  • Why the business continuity plan is important

  • Who are the business continuity plan coordinators

  • Where the business continuity plan information can be found

  • When the business continuity plan is exercised

  • How the business continuity plan is activated

Videos, newsletters, e-mails, posters, personal memos from top executives, promotional items, informal meetings and other communication techniques can be used effectively to raise awareness. Existing communication vehicles should be used whenever possible to ensure that employees are receiving information.

Anecdotes about how other organizations were affected by disasters or problems that caused business continuity plans to be activated can be powerful communication tools. People typically respond more positively to real-life examples, and these stories will also stick with them, especially if they can readily see how the downfall of a company was prevented by the effective use of a business continuity plan. Stories of company failures caused by a lack of planning may be even more compelling.

Outside Help

The business continuity coordinator responsible for the overall plan should also attend ongoing education and learning programs outside the company to ensure that he or she has the latest and best information and techniques to apply to the organization’s operations.

Next we turn to training, which is what must be done to make a plan fully operational. The business continuity planning team must decide who in the organization will need special training, and of what type. Since it will pull them away from other functions that are also vital to the organization, supervisors of these individuals must support the effort and training must be organized in a way that will minimize training time.

Three types of training are typically employed, including computer-based training, classroom training and scenario testing exercises. The roles of teams within the organization, as well as individual roles, must be clearly defined and communicated to all employees involved. Those being trained should be taught what to look for in their areas of operations that might indicate problems and a potential need to activate the business continuity plan. Processes for communicating with others within the organization and making decisions must also be covered.

Following the training process, the business continuity team should evaluate and establish an ongoing plan for repeat training at appropriate intervals, accounting for variables such as new organizational operations, employee turnover in key positions, and new business continuity techniques.

The bottom line: What would be the cost to us if a disaster occurred and our team was not fully prepared to implement our business continuity plan?

The bottom line: What's the cost to not be fully prepared when a disaster finally strikes?


According to the American Red Cross, employees can easily create a personal workplace disaster supplies kit. For many workplaces, in case of a crisis or disaster, employees might be confined for several hours, or perhaps overnight, in a facility. They can play a role by stocking a personal stash of supplies beyond what the organization or security may provide. Here is what the Red Cross recommends:

Flashlight with extra batteries – An employee can use a flashlight to find his or her way if the power is out. It is important to instruct employees not to use candles or any other open flame for emergency lighting.

Battery-powered radio – News about an emergency may change rapidly as events unfold. Employees also will be concerned about family and friends in the area. Radio reports will give information about the areas most affected.

Food – Enough non-perishable food to sustain an employee for at least one day (three meals) is suggested. Foods selected should require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. Items can include:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meals, meats, fruits and vegetables.

  • Canned juices.

  • High-energy foods (granola bars, energy bars).

    Water – Employees should consider keeping at least one gallon of water or more if a person is on medications that require water or that increase thirst. Water can be stored in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles.

    Medications – Employees should include usual non-prescription medications, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, etc. If a person uses prescription medications, at least three-day’s supply of these medications should be stored at your workplace.

    First aid supplies – If an employer does not provide first aid supplies, employees should consider having the following essentials:

  • (20) adhesive bandages, various sizes.

  • (1) 5” x 9” sterile dressing.

  • (1) conforming roller gauze bandage.

  • (2) triangular bandages.

  • (2) 3 x 3 sterile gauze pads.

  • (2) 4 x 4 sterile gauze pads.

  • (1) roll 3” cohesive bandage.

  • (2) germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • (6) antiseptic wipes.

  • (2) pair large medical grade non-latex gloves