Strategic Management

The beginning step is to establish a strategic model; this is the opportunity to establish Emergency Management (EM) and Business Continuity Management (BCM) functionality within the community.  The Strategic Model identifies the: vision, mission, guiding principles, mandate, authority, accountability chain, roles and responsibilities internal and external stakeholders, reporting structures, goals, strategic plan and end deliverables.

The Strategic Model establishes the emergency response component of a community within the context of its business functions by establishing it as a recognized program with a budget line, infrastructure, resources (human and other) and a mandate to have an emergency response capability and capacity. The Strategic Model basically outlines how the community will conduct the business of emergency response.

In the Strategic Planning Phase there are tremendous planning and organizational tasks that need to be performed. It is extremely helpful if the Emergency / Business Continuity Manager has a background and working understanding of project management theory and techniques as well as good analytical skills. Having these skills make the planning much more comprehensive and can be supported more readily when presented in a thorough and consistent professional manner that meets accepted best practices. In the event that the EM/BCM Manager does not have these skills, individual(s) with these skills need to be in place on the main planning team so that the project planning meets all goals and that the identified work is represented in a professional and complete manner.

The Strategic Planning Phase requires significant work in capturing and analyzing the community’s current emergency preparedness status, conducting Gap Analysis, Cost/Benefit Analyses, analyzing the hazards, vulnerabilities and risks that face the community and crafting appropriate mitigation implementation strategies to manage the identified risks and much report writing. All of this work must be reflected in Policies, Charters, PIDS, Terms of References, Gantt Charts, Process maps, Work Break Down Schedules, Opeating Procedures and Recovery Strategies. Failure to manage this information properly and professionally jeopardizes the completion of the work and can discredit the accountability of the project as well as increase overall costs. There needs to a mechanism in place to ensure that the EM/BCM Strategy Stays on Scope, Within Budget and On Time, this is called Project Management.

Progect Management

Project Management Institute (PMI)

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) (PDF Download)

PLANNING to PLAN

The process that a community chooses to follow in developing and implementing their EM/BCM Program is a community’s choice. There are many processes, frameworks and models to choose from. The primary criteria that should be adhered to is that whatever process is chosen, it should be based on good scientific research and knowledge and should incorporate Best Practices from within the greater Emergency Planning Community. It is also very important to conform to any and all Government Legislation, (acts & regulations), at all appropriate levels of government, (Federal, Provincial and Municipal).

Observance of any stakeholder policies is advised if the community has any dependencies with the particular stakeholders. If the community has entered into any legally binding agreements or contracts with other communities, roles and responsibilities as well as obligations; legal, moral or ethical, need to be considered and incorporated within the process.

The 1st phase of the planning process is bringing the most appropriate people together to establish an Initial Planning Team. This group should consist of a small group of the community members who have some project management and emergency preparedness knowledge and abilities to put together a Project Proposal to present to the community’s Senior Officials for approval to precede. Once the proposal is approved, a Project Initiation Team will need to be appointed to develop the Project Initiation document (PID), Project Charter or a Business Case. The PID/Charter will overview the process development, resources, required time-lines, deliverables and the milestones of developing and implementing the Emergency Preparedness Program within the community. This step is most important, as it will be used to seek endorsement from the Senior Officials of the community and to secure the resources, funding and authority to proceed with the program development. Without these primary tenets, a robust and comprehensive emergency preparedness program will not materialize.

initial planning team

A PID is a narrative document that expresses the high level description of the project and is used to inform Senior Management of the project’s intent as well as goals and obligation. The PID and Charter’s key objective is to garner approval and resource support from Senior Management. Business Cases accomplish very similar goals as the PID or Project Charter; however, they tend to be more focused. While a PID or Charter may be used for larger projects or those projects that are long in duration, complex or very broad in application, the Business Case works well for focused applications such as specific requirements of procurements and expansions of existing systems or processes opposed to the initiation of a new conceptual system or process.

A Business Case usually attempts to answer specific questions (usually related to Cost/Benefit) such as “What will be the financial consequences of either not doing the project or doing the project? The business case should justifiably argue and demonstrate that the energy, money and effort of the proposed project in fact is a benefit and contributes to the overall support or enhancement of the community/organization. A business case provides pertinent information that supports decisions; it provides a forum in business or commercial terms the arguments and justifications to resolve business or strategic issues affecting a community or organization.

It remains a community’s/organization’s cultural decision as to which to use. If your community is used to a Business Case approach then it may be beneficial to submit the BCM or Emergency Response project request this way, if you wish to really grab attention try using a format that is not traditionally used in your community, it may be the attention getter that slows thinking down to digest the full impact of the work proposed. After the senior officials approve the PID/Charter/Business Plan a Sponsor should be appointed.

The sponsor is a senior individual within the community/organization who is ultimately responsible for the program and is accountable to the community’s senior officials. The sponsor should be the “Champion” for this effort and actively promote and suport the efforts of all involved as well as the community at large.

The Sponsor then needs to appoint an Emergency and or BCM Manager who will be essence the project manager or coordinator whose responsibility is the day-to-day oversight and management of the planning process and implementation of the Emergency Preparedness Program. The individual appointed to this position must have a sound understanding of Comprehensive Emergency Management, Response Plans and Responding Agencies, Project Management skills, Facilitating Human Resources, be able to effectively work with the senior officials and educate and mentor team members.

The Project Sponsor is responsible to establish the Planning Steering Committee; this can be accomplished either by a competitive selection process or by an appointment process. A common approach is to use a hybrid version, the appointment of key members from within the community having either appropriate qualification, have a strong knowledge base or are key subject matter experts in specific areas important to the process and then populate the remainder of the committee using a competitive selection process.

The Emergency Manager must then establish and populate the Working Teams that will be charged with doing the work to meet the deliverables established in the approved PID, Charter or Business Case. The Emergency Manager must work side by side with the working teams and the steering committee to efficiently and effectively manage the project’s day-to-day activities. The steering committee acts as an Oversight Body to ensure that the project stays on track, time and budget.

The Steering Committee also addresses any strategic changes in the work plans or program deliverables. Like the Emergency Manager, the Steering Committee is accountable and reports to the Sponsor.?

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Regardless of the methods used to populate the committee(s) or team(s) the important point is to solicit the support of the key members of the community with knowledge, skills and desire to see the project through to the successful completion of each phase. The committee(s)/team(s) will become dynamic as skill sets and knowledge bases are required to change as the tasks in the planning process change. For example, Senior Officials may contribute developing the strategic and budgetary portions of the planning process but may not have the necessary skill sets to conduct Hazard, Vulnerability and Risk Assessments or some members may be able to contribute in the development of Non- Structural Mitigation Strategies but may be unable in assisting with Structural Mitigation Strategies.

The key is to have the RIGHT PEOPLE doing the RIGHT JOB at the RIGHT TIME.

Once the committee(s)/team(s) are populated it is time to get down to the real work, the work of developing the program, or more visibly, finishing a viable approved Emergency Plan for the community. At this stage, Coordination and Facilitation are the skills of the day. The Emergency Manager must choreograph each of the teams and sub-projects so that they progress in a timely fashion and their deliverables are delivered according to the Master Work Plan.

The Emergency or BCM Manager is responsible to establish, populate and facilitate as many teams as necessary to complete all of the essential planning tasks within a Comprehensive Emergency Plan. Most of these teams will require specific skill sets and are usually functioning for a specific time frame allowing for appropriate time to complete the work. Some team members may be on more than one team, depending on the member’s knowledge base, skill sets, abilities and availability. Efficient and effective uses of resources are a primary concern to the Emergency Manager. Prudence and thought must be used in order not to overburden individuals within the community.

It is the Emergency Manager’s responsibility to engage each larger team and to facilitate them “talking” together so that a collaborative environment exists. This will promote a harmonious link up of both plans when the completed plan is assembled.

The Steering Committee’s job is to oversee these processes and ensures that simultaneous and harmonious work is occurring. The Steering Committee also provides strategic directions and decisions to both groups through the Emergency Manager.