Where Does Emergency Management Stop And Business Continuity Start?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your planning… We discussed the relationship between disaster recovery and business continuity in another post, but this time the subject is the dividing line between emergency management and business continuity. In fact, we’re back to the same question: how do you carve up everything that needs to be planned, tested and executed in order for an organisation to “keep a lickin’ and keep on tickin’” (one of our favourite quotes!). Moreover, from this question comes another one that is just as important.

So how do we figure out the EM/BC split? Our earlier conclusion about disaster recovery and business continuity was that the crucial thing was that between them they covered everything that needed to be done to recover from problems and keep functioning in the meantime. The “BC is proactive”/”DR is reactive” split for instance has the additional merit of being simple.

We can take a similar approach concerning emergency management, to define it as the “procedures and actions taken directly following an interruption to business”. This is not the same as disaster recovery, which is then “actions taken to recover certain capabilities and from them a certain level of service”. Finally, business continuity is the completing process to plan ways of avoiding or circumventing problems and to execute on those plans to get or maintain the organisation at the level it was before the interruption.

To give examples, emergency management is responsible for evacuation procedures of personnel and fire drills, where disaster recovery is concerned with restoring data to replacement servers and business continuity has customer operations being handled being manually, at the customer’s site or in some other way while your organisation is dealing with its other problems. The other key question from this is however: we hear about DR and BC plans, but what emergency management plans do organisations really make?