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Business Continuity Planning:  Supply Chain and Emergency Operations Planning

Business Continuity Planning: Supply Chain and Emergency Operations Planning

As public health, hospital, or other service workers, your duty is to your community.  Maintaining operations for your type of business will be a crucial component of the healthcare system during a disaster, which is why business continuity planning is so important.  As we are diving head first into the pool of business continuity planning, we are going deeper and deeper, reaching some areas that are rarely thought about, such as supply chain continuity.  Today, I will discuss steps 3 & 4, Evaluating the Supply Chain and the Emergency Management Plan.

3. Evaluate the Supply Chain.

A recent article entitled "Planning for Supply Chain Continuity" by Damian Walch stated, “A good planning process for supply chain continuity begins with asking the right questions.”  Read here for the full article.  To sum up the supply chain continuity questions, you are doing three things:

  1. Determine and evaluate what your normal supply needs are.
  2. Define both your ideal supply situation and what you can minimally function on during a disaster.
  3. Work with vendors to determine how quickly you will be able to get the supplies during a disaster.

Another key component in this whole process is relationship building.  You will be building relationships with vendors, both big and small.  As we have discussed in previous articles (Read Coalition Building:  Gaining Buy-in here.), relationship building is important because it generally creates a positive bond and trust between people.  This will allow both sides of the partnership to become more engaged, involved, and committed to the project, or in this case, supply chain needs.  It better provides, and plus, it is easier to work with someone that you're already familiar with.  If you're working with big-time vendors, work with the "local" manager to gain buy-in and to meet your supply needs at their corporate level.

When evaluating your supply chain continuity, you are asking yourself the same points listed above, but add in:

  • Do my suppliers still carry what I need?
  • Can the suppliers still do what is needed and in the designated time frame during a disaster?
  • Do they have a business continuity plan? (This is especially important if they are a local business and are affected too.)
  • Are there any changes in the management, agreements, communications, etc.?

Just like with any planning, things change and need to be periodically re-evaluated to stay current.  When you're dealing with supplies and suppliers, this is extremely important.  No one wants to be in a disaster, realize that they don't have what is needed, and can't get it, like syringes or medications.

"A strong supply chain continuity capability ultimately relies on strong, well chosen and well managed business partnerships with an environment that enables management and staff from all organizations to roll up their sleeves and work together during a crisis."

-- Damian Walch, Planning for Supply Chain Continuity

4. Create an emergency management plan, and designate a Coordinator.

It always goes back to planning!  What we do now, always helps us in the future, or stated another way--what we don't do, always hurts us in the future.  It may not be textbook when it is played out, but if the plan is developed, implemented, and practiced frequently, our response actions become like muscle memory.  We will know what to do and not have to refer to the plan for a step by step "how to."

According to Ask.com, "You plan to influence and be aware of the future and its benefit to you.  You also plan in order to achieve a certain goal or objectives.  This is done through a series of steps which will help you in formulating a strategy and means of control of someone or something." In other words, we as emergency planners are trying to influence others and be aware of future disasters by developing or revising a strategy and means of control (AKA emergency management plan) used by the responders to minimize the effects of a disaster.

Remember, we plan to help us:

  • Identify our response goals clearly and concretely.
  • Understand our response goals and what we need to do to reach it.
  • Be ahead of the game to achieve our response goals, determine barriers, and how to work to overcome the barriers.
  • To be accountable for what we do.
  • Decide how best to use our resources, such as supplies, money, and people.
  • Lay the basis for us to assess and evaluate our achievements effectively.

The main point here is that you need to have an emergency management plan in place before the disaster.  You also need to designate someone to coordinate that plan to help the business transition (as smoothly as possible) from normal operations to emergency operations.  When times are chaotic, you don't want to begin developing or add to outdated organizational processes, policies, or resources.  Stay tuned next month for Steps 5 & 6, Back-up Data and Crisis Communication Planning.

 

Other bParati Business Continuity Articles:

*Business Continuity Planning in Depth:  Steps 1 & 2, Assess Risks and Define Critical Business Functions

*Without Continuity of Operations Plan, the Emergency Operations Plan Goes to Bat With 2 Strikes.

Tsoetsy Harris, MPH, MEP

Tsoetsy Harris, MPH, MEP


Independent Consultant

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