In my last article , I brought up an easy first step to begin compliance with The Joint Commissions’ updated emergency management requirements for hospitals.
 
As someone who has been through several regulatory surveys, I recall an old saying about these events: having something documented is better than having nothing documented.
The same applies to your continuity of operations planning (COOP). When you’re starting out, focus on assessing how different business interruption scenarios would impact your business units, and the high-level strategies you’d employ. This will go a long way towards your planning efforts and easily demonstrate that you’ve considered responses to these events.
A simple way to do this is to list out each of your work units at the facility, and rate the impact of each of the COOP scenarios if they were to happen. A simple rating of “High,” “Medium,” or “Low” will allow you to consider how much of an issue the various COOP scenarios would have to that work unit.
 
Next, apply some thought and assessment as to the types of recovery strategies you’d use if a specific scenario occurred. There are a few high-level categories of recovery tactics you could consider.
 
Recovery Tactics to Consider:
Reassign. This is the act of moving the functions (all or partially) to another work unit or department. This could be to a work unit within your current facility that is still operating, or to an external location.
Relocate. This tactic is used when the work unit’s location is impacted, but the people and processes can be moved to another space temporarily.
Repair. In most cases, you must take some action to fix the problem the scenario has caused to your work unit. You would use this tactic to cover a broad list of activities, including: physical repairs to the facility, modifying your activities to accommodate the issue or fixing the problem through sourcing from a new vendor.
Restart later. Sometimes recovery is not an option due to the circumstances. You may have to simply cease some or all the functions of this work unit due to the scenario, and plan to restart it later. There are various activities you would need to plan for if this was the case, but identifying which work units couldn’t work is the first step in doing so.
 
There are many more strategies you can consider, but these tend to be the most utilized. Next, combine the impacts of the scenarios with the strategies you’d select for each department you’re reviewing.
 
Your COOP Risk tool could look like this:
Developing these high-level tools are the first step you can immediately take to focus your continuity planning. It provides you with an easy way to identify the hazards that would impact your facility, and help prioritize where you start more in-depth review.
 
Shane Mathew is our Sr. BCM Consultant for Virtual Corporation and an accomplished builder and leader of risk reduction programs. With experiences in government, healthcare and Fortune 200 resilience programs, Shane has a soft spot for those new to this field.