IFMA Facility Management Consultant’s Council (FMCC) has recently released a White Paper on Business Continuity.
I wrote it to give Facility Managers an informative overview of a responsibility that is very often relegated to a lower priority. Many countries have expectations that responsible businesses will take appropriate measures to protect their occupants and their operations.
In the United States, organizations have requirement for adequate planning and implementation. Some US industries – financial is a great example, are under more specific mandate for formal plans that include every function within the company.
- Did you know that the CEO of a US corporation was found personally responsible because the Emergency Response plans were incomplete? A shooting occurred at the workplace and the shocked fellow employees didn’t know how to respond… The delay to call 9-1-1 may have cost a life.
- Were you aware there is a huge percentage of companies that do not recover from catastrophic events – even if they have insurance cover? The disruption to customers caused them to locate other vendors/suppliers and the clients did not return.
- As the FM, do you understand your role in Disaster Planning, Emergency Response and Business Continuity? Detailed information needs to be gathered and documented and drilled to save the precious time when the event occurs.
But for many organizations, planning is not complete, actions are deferred, funding is not maintained and employees are not aware. Indeed there are quite a few businesses that fail to perform the basic ‘fire drills’ to confirm occupants know how to properly evacuate a building when the alarm is raised.
It does not matter what region of the globe your organization is located, Facility Managers have a contributory responsibility- to safeguard the lives and well-being of the occupants, to protect the assets of the organization, and to minimize losses in the event of a calamity or catastrophe.
Business Continuity is about business resilience, or the ability to withstand the challenges that may arise and to quickly return to normal operations.
To start, the FM must understand the vulnerabilities and plan responses.
- If a lightning strike destroyed the BAS, you will need to identify an alternate means to manage HVAC.
- If that lightning event also causes massive data loss to the Accounts Receivable department, the business is exposed to risk.
Systems can be protected, back-up systems can be installed, alternatives can be identified to fulfill business-critical functions.
- If a power outage is a risk to the operations, then a generator can address the need for critical functions.
- If a fire affects an office space, temporary locations may be provided in conference rooms or by short-term lease in nearby buildings.
Employees can be educated, trained, and exercises/drills can ensure sufficient awareness to reduce risks.
- Remember the adage – ‘Knowledge is Power’. Awareness is the first defense for personal safety and for the actions that can reduce the loss of assets.
As the Facility Manager, you have a responsibility to support the safety of the occupants and to protect the assets in your care.
Even if your organization doesn’t have a formal program, there are steps you can take. These are straightforward reviews of the building, the systems, the functions, occupants, and the outside support network that can contribute to protect the business operations.
Within the white paper, there are some resources identified that will inform and guide your considerations. I encourage you to make yourself more fully aware and to take actions to add value of your FM services to the organization.
The field of Planning / Disaster Response / Crisis Management / Business Continuity is hugely complex and involves every aspect of the business organization. You are invited to review the White Paper – even as an overview; a summary that is meant to make you consider anew the risks, the statistics, and the impact that an event can have for your business.
Read the White Paper.
After a successful beginning in US facilities management, Stephen Brown assumed a position with an international portfolio. As his career progressed, Brown held senior FM posts in the Caribbean, UK / Europe, and the Middle East. These included multi-site facility portfolios, organizational contracting / procurement, and project management responsibilities.
After 20 years managing the built environment for both private and public sector organizations, Brown transitioned into consulting on facility strategies, condition assessments, service provision / operational efficiencies, administration, contract management, environmental matters, and emergency response / business continuity. Additionally, he facilitates IFMA and DRII credential training (formally qualified by these global organizations) as well as client-specific facility, health & safety, environmental, and staff development training programs.
Brown earned an MBA after undergraduate work that combined studies in Architectural and Business Management. He serves on the IFMA International Credentials Commission and has also served as Subject Matter Expert in contributions to the IFMA CFM and FMP credential programs. Brown is adjunct faculty and has been published or cited in multiple FM-related magazines and journals and posts regular articles on FM topics via diverse media channels.
Confirming his knowledge and experience, Brown has earned IFMA Certified Facility Manager®, Facility Management Professional®, and Sustainable Facilities Professional® credentials. He also holds Certified Plant Engineer, Master Business Continuity Professional, Registered Environmental Manager, and Certified Environmental & Safety Compliance Officer credentials.
Past clients include Fortune 500 corporations, academic (universities and K-12), government, NGO’s, and volunteer activities. An avid SCUBA diver, he regularly contributes efforts to coral reef recovery and marine environmental awareness.
FM-adviso is a founding partner in the multi-disciplinary Global Facility Management Alliance. This consortium of FM consultants facilitates broader strategic support for larger clients and projects of greater complexity.
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