Emergency Management vs. Business Continuity

Aug 18, 2022
Zachary Amos
Although emergency management and business continuity might sound similar, they don’t perform the same function. Emergency management teams anticipate physical threats to employees and buildings. On the other hand, business continuity teams work to ensure a company can keep running and survive a crisis.

Emergency management and business continuity are two players on the same team. Together, these groups anticipate potential issues and make response plans so companies can safely navigate catastrophes. Here’s why your operation needs both emergency management and business continuity strategies. 

Imagine the Chaos

Businesses are designed to run like well-oiled machines. However, if something stops the wheels from turning, your company could quickly become chaotic and even stop functioning. If operations stop long enough, you could lose clientele, your reputation, and your financial ability to run. 

Emergency management and business continuity teams protect your company by imagining what could go wrong. Physical locations could be impacted by natural disasters or widespread illness. Political unrest can also affect your company’s success. Certain factors could stop workers from communicating with you if they are remote. 

Your emergency management team members are the first responders if something goes wrong. They develop protocols to keep employees safe from events like fire, flooding, earthquakes, and active shooters. They also have a plan to protect essential business assets from being destroyed or stolen. 

After your emergency management team responds to a crisis, it’s time for your business continuity team to step in. These people create backup plans so you can continue working during an emergency. They work to restore company systems, connect your employees, and equip your facility to keep moving forward. 

Anticipate Potential Issues

Some events are very difficult to anticipate, such as COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns. However, most businesses are put under by lesser events they could have prepared for. Examples include tech problems, theft, supply chain issues, and prolonged sickness in the workforce. 

Think of your business as a house you’re renting out. You’ve invested time and money into creating something remarkable that other people will pay you for. However, what happens if a tree falls on the roof? What if the dryer catches fire? Homeowners think ahead and act so expensive problems won’t damage their return on investment. 

You need a similar mindset for your business. Consider all the different parts of what you do and ask yourself what could go wrong. Here are just a few examples: 

  • Are your online platforms secure? 
  • Do you have backups of important information? 
  • How many people have access to your passwords? 
  • Is your physical location secure? 

The more prepared your company is, the less you’ll lose when something goes wrong. Your emergency management team works hard to prepare employees and business structures for a quick response in a crisis. After the fact, your business continuity group has a plan to keep things running until you can establish a new normal.  

Create Business Protocols

Your emergency management and business continuity groups worry about issues now so your business can deal with fewer true emergencies later. Both teams are essential for handling crises—for example, emergency management trains employees on fire drills and how to respond to an active shooter. Business continuity teams create action plans so minimal time is lost after a crisis. 

It’s essential to consider a wide range of issues when preparing for crises. Business continuity and emergency management groups should give the most time and attention to issues that could immediately affect your operations. They can then start to plan for problems that might affect your company in the future.

People who live near wildfire-prone areas build several layers of defensible space around their homes. The inner layer is the most heavily protected, with outer layers giving homeowners space to extinguish flames while they’re still far away. Most also create a fire break around their property to further slow fire spread. 

Your business protocols should be similarly ranked from serious to not-so-serious situations. Although wildfires are always dangerous, a fire in your home or business needs the most attention. If the flames are still 300 feet away from your home, you have more time to act and will use a different strategy to handle the situation.

Drill Down Specifics

The most crucial thing in any emergency is employee safety. However, if you want your business to keep running, you must also protect assets for stakeholders. Your workers should know how to stay safe, secure sensitive information, and keep essential functions running for as long as possible. 

You need a backup plan for keeping communication open and securing essential information. All online platforms should be protected and backed up in case the technology stops functioning. Keeping company passwords in only one place is not a good idea. You should be able to access business information from multiple locations. 

Part of emergency management and business continuity’s roles is assembling teams so employees know their responsibilities during a crisis. Things could still fall apart if your business has a protocol, but people don’t know their roles. Assess potential problems by running business continuity tests before an event happens. 

Unfortunately, you can’t protect your business from everything. However, you can prepare to safeguard your company from situations that could derail or damage operations. Emergency management and business continuity teams are essential for this process. 

Protect Your Business

Many people complete risk assessments without thinking about it. For example, some refuse to go swimming without a lifeguard. Others don’t mind diving in alone but set boundaries about where they’ll swim and how long. Each person makes the best decision based on their strengths and weaknesses. 

Emergency management and business continuity teams can help your business assess danger and plan to thrive regardless of changing circumstances. These groups work to anticipate potential problems and then create protocols for responding quickly. They serve different functions and are essential for safeguarding your company.

Zac Amos is the Features Editor and a writer at ReHack, where he loves digging into business tech, cybersecurity, and anything else technology-related. You can find more of his work on Twitter or LinkedIn.