After determining your preparedness goals and strategy, developing plans, and training everyone in your organization on those processes, it is time to test those processes and see if your people can respond correctly. This is accomplished by conducting various types of drills, exercises, and system tests in a safe, non-threatening environment to confirm if your people can execute those actions you want them to do when incidents happen. Your exercises and tests should be varied and challenging to identify areas needing improvement. The more realistic and less classroom oriented they are, the more value these exercises will provide. As a reminder of my first point for leaders and managers, perfect preparedness is not possible. You should expect and accept failures during exercises and tests, otherwise you’ve learned nothing and have no idea how to get better. In my opinion, if you get an A+ grade or didn’t break something, you didn’t have a good exercise!
After you’ve completed these steps, conducted multiple exercises, and used your lessons learned to improve your plans and training, you will reach a point where it “starts to click” within your organization. When you reach that point you may start thinking your answer to “Are we prepared enough?” is “Yes, we’re absolutely prepared enough!” If that’s the case, let me suggest you go back to step 3 and conduct a few more good exercises and break something. If your answer is more like “We’ve certainly come a long way and are much stronger than before, but we realize we have more to improve” – great job, now you’re getting somewhere! In my experience, it just isn’t possible in the first cycles of this process to go from unprepared to meeting your strategy and goals. And as you continue to learn and improve your program, you will inevitably adjust your strategy and your acceptable definition of “prepared enough.” This is where continual process improvement comes into line with business continuity practices. Later on as you continue to improve your program you will reach a point where your answer will be a positive “We are prepared enough for today, but let’s improve something else tomorrow.” That’s the kind of preparedness or business continuity program I am passionate about building for businesses and other organizations.
If you’d like to know more about how to prepare your organization and create a proactive preparedness program, please go to www.accinctus.com for more information or to contact me.
Be Aware – Be Prepared – Be Safe.