Month Four: Supporting your Critical Functions

Build your PACK Ready Plan in a Year

(Total estimated time: 4 – 6 hours)

In our Year of PACK Ready Planning, we are one quarter into the effort, addressing key personnel, contact information with communication trees and critical functions. Since critical functions are a large component of planning and continuity, we need to consider how to keep the work going even with limited resources. In this month’s activity, the goal is to identify ways that work can resume or continue even if you lose the human and other resources you usually expect to have.

When thinking through the “survival” part of your planning, it is helpful to consider not specific hazards, but level of disruption. By this we mean instead of thinking “in the event of a hurricane,” you think “in the event of a [minor/medium/major] disruption.” Why do we do this? Because you can never guess every type of potential hazard. As you consider event severity, you can choose work around options that address small, medium and large disruptions. The decision making you will have to do is much different in a small, localized fire for example versus a large regional hurricane. Starting with the small and working your way up, however, makes it easier to know where to start in tackling the large as the decisions will build on each other.

As you contemplate the steps below, think about the resources you use to complete them. If there are IT functions you didn’t list before, note them. If you require specialty equipment, note it. Anything that sparks conversation and might need to be an option, write it down!

Step 1 – Outlining Your Dependencies 

We will think through dependencies in two directions–up and down. The upstream dependencies are those departments, units, and organizations you depend on to get this critical function completed. The downstream are the departments, units, and organizations that rely on you completing this critical function. Examples include units that would have a work stoppage without your work, as well as your end customers who expect you to complete your work.

Something to think about – Dependencies may be the same for different critical functions. Looking at these dependencies, are there any individuals in these departments, units, or organizations that are key to you doing your work? Often you will only have a single point of contact that knows you and your business. Do you have their number and contact information for quick reference?

Step 2 – Addressing How to Continue Operations

Answer these questions in the section of each critical function. Considerations might include:

1. Identifying alternate facilities or outlining the facility requirements for this function – this could be physical location or telecommuting.

2. How to cross train or prepare staff for offsite or limited workforce – what is the back up or contingency plan for staff? Support? Long term event management if people need to rotate out of their role?Image result for checklist

3. Digital functions that could be done on paper if needed – do you have notepads available and a way to carry on processes without a computer?

Some of this information probably already exists in your office procedures or guidance. Great!  Upload any and all documentation that can support you in completing this critical function without your usual resources. This might include paper forms that replace digital functions, software keys in case you have to buy new computers, or training documents that could help get a staff member up to speed on a function they do not usually support. Keeping a copy in your PACK Ready Plan Google Team drive will create another copy in case you can’t get to originals for some reason.

Step 3 — Action Items

Now that you have brainstormed a list and considered the domino effect loss of function could have, what’s next? It’s time to make an action list and prepare! In this step, you will create action items to address any gaps or uncertainties you had as you worked through the previous steps.

Think about some of these questions:

1. Are there any teams or individuals you should develop relationships or agreements with to ensure you know who to call after a disaster, and know how they will support you?

2. Do you need any agreements with vendors or others in place to smooth the transition from normal operations to “coping.”

3. Are there any cross-training opportunities to ensure staff can support these critical functions?

4. If digital processes can be moved to paper, do the appropriate forms or documents exist?

It never hurts to add to the list as you think of more critical functions or steps that could support continuity efforts. The idea is to manage forward and create a quick tool for anyone who may be impacted or able to help!

This post is part of a series breaking the process of emergency preparedness and mission continuity planning for NC State departments into monthly tasks to help build a plan in a year.