Keywords: Emergency Preparedness Planning, crisis management, decision making, business continuity, emergency management, disaster
Strategies to reduce the impacts of disasters on business processes: the case of business continuity
Events that are described as "disasters" are those that cause severe impacts on human activities. Severe impacts can be reduced, and some can be eliminated for practical purposes, through suitable strategies. The aim of this paper is to discuss different ways to facilitate a comprehensive approach from policy level through middle and down to operational management. We will further discuss how the comprehensive approach can identify which business processes should not be, or can be, interrupted, integrating business continuity into overall strategy, and describe techniques to insure continuity of critical business processes. Part of this paper's report is our research, which includes interviews with executives knowledgeable about their corporations' crisis management planning. Recent literature and curricula for emergency management professionals now emphasise mitigation and recovery. In conjunction, directives from senior management and regulatory agencies are impelling a comprehensive management approach. One logical result is that business continuity has become one of several strategies used to reduce the impacts of disasters. The authors advocate using senior management's perspective to select criteria that can identify which business processes require the business continuity strategy. They believe managers at the policy level should facilitate using the comprehensive approach by setting the criteria for the next two levels" managers to apply. The authors expand the discussion, noting "strategy" is applied differently at each of the three management levels. The authors propose seven impact categories that can determine when to apply business continuity or another strategy. They conclude by outlining management techniques to incorporate business continuity into overall strategy.