What is Disaster Planning ?

All organizations, firms, corporations will probably face unforeseen incidents and disasters which will make it difficult or, at times, even impossible to perform the routine functions. These can range from a small accident in a factory to far more serious situations such as a major fire or flooding. Since the organization is a complex institution discharging diverse functions and employing hundreds of people in different capacities, it is essential that the organization has the necessary will and the wherewithal, both in terms of materials and logistics, to face a hostile eventuality. This is imperative not only from the point of view of avoiding damage to life and property, but also to recover from the impact of the disaster and resume normal functions such as production as soon as possible.

The primary responsibility and ability of dealing with a disaster rests with the management. Hence, they play a pivotal role in ensuring that the organization has a sound disaster plan to sustain the impact and to bounce back after the disaster is over.

Disaster planning can be done in the form of steps such as:-

Step 1. The disaster plan which is drafted should have the involvement of all the functions of the organizations and should be accorded importance at all levels. For this to happen, it needs the support and approval of the top management. In case of large organizations, a formal project can be formed to devise and implement the disaster plan.

Step 2. Assessment of possible impact: Once the preparation of the disaster plan is started, the team in charge of the preparation should list down all the possible things that can go wrong in the organizations, its manufacturing facilities and in the immediate surrounding environment. The listing should contain all possibilities, no matter what their chances of occurrences are.

Step 3. The development of the plan: The formal shape of the plan will become obvious in this step. This step will concern itself with helping the organization come back to normalcy from its affected status. This step will determine the processes in the organization which can be started after the disaster has occurred and their sequence. The first step in a disaster will usually be the emergency phase which involves the emergency services and related experts.

Step 4. Testing the plan: This phase involves testing the plan that has been developed. The testing of the plan should be done in conditions that mimic the actual situation in case of disaster as close as possible. The testing should involve the same people who will be responsible for the implementation of disaster planning. The plan needs to be checked at each level and can be fine-tuned based on inputs from those concerned.

Step 5. Training of the Personnel: This involves training the personnel in the organization. It is imperative that the personnel involved takes the training seriously. This is important as many of the events foreseen will appear to be extremely rare and unlikely. Coordination between different individuals is paramount as often the job of one individual during an emergency will be tied to the performance of another.

Step 6. Maintenance of the Plan: This is the final phase of the disaster plan development. Once developed, the plan should be constantly updated. The plan should be under the care of an individual of a high rank who will be charged with updating and ensuring that all the parts of the plan run properly. All changes to the plan should be properly tested and analyzed and the changes should be communicated to all the employees.