4 Reasons You Need an Integrated Contingency Plan

4_Reasons_You_Need_an_Integrated_Contingency_Plan.jpgAs business continuity and emergency response professionals look to the future, many see a need for increased investment in emergency planning. In fact, 24 percent of organizations expect to increase spending on their business continuity programs in 2016, according to the Business Continuity Institute. For those looking to step up their emergency planning efforts, is an integrated contingency plan worthwhile?

An integrated contingency plan, also known as ICP or One Plan, is a single, unified emergency response plan that is meant to help organizations comply with multiple federal planning requirements put in place by various regulatory agencies. While many organizations are still using contingency plans as a separate strategy, this is starting to be seen as an outgoing trend. Contemporary best practices suggest incorporating contingency plans into your larger emergency preparedness and business continuity initiatives.    

The idea behind an integrated plan came from the U.S. National Response Team (NRT), which in 1996 published guidelines for consolidating multiple emergency response plans into one core document. Although an integrated plan is not required, the tactic can certainly be helpful for certain organizations, particularly those in the public sector.

Is the integrated approach right for you? Here, we explore four key reasons your organization may benefit from an integrated contingency plan:

1. A streamlined emergency planning process.

By integrating multiple emergency plans into a single document, your organization can enjoy a more streamlined planning process. You will no longer need to draft multiple disparate plans, which helps to eliminate duplicate information and processes. Plus, if your organization uses a mobile app or software platform for crisis response, employees will have an easier time navigating one unified plan, rather than multiple separate ones.

An integrated plan also simplifies the review process, which can be especially time-consuming in large organizations. When your stakeholders and crisis response team only needs to review and approve one document, the process is significantly easier.

2. Greater compliance.

An integrated plan is especially helpful for those organizations that must comply with several federal emergency planning regulations. The original NRT guidance document sought to consolidate the emergency response elements of the following federal regulations:

  •        EPA RCRA contingency planning requirements
  •        EPA SPCC regulation
  •        EPA risk management programs regulation
  •        OSHA’s emergency action plan regulation, process safety management standard and HAZWOPER regulation
  •        Facility response plan regulations from the USCG, BSEE and EPA
  •        Department of Transportation PHMSA pipeline response plan regulation

If your organization is required to adhere to any of the above regulations, an integrated plan can help keep you in compliance by providing you with a single reference point for all planning information. This streamlined approach also gives you improved visibility into various parts of your organization’s emergency response, which can help to reveal gaps that could be costly.

3. Potential cost-savings.

Many organizations that adopt an integrated plan actually save money. Since the planning process is streamlined and reviews are simplified, administrative costs are kept to a minimum. Plus, by crafting a more comprehensive, effective plan, some may eliminate regulatory fines and minimize the amount of funds spent on emergency response and clean-up.

4. Improved emergency response.

Not only does an integrated plan make the planning process more streamlined; it also improves the response process itself. When your separate plans are incorporated into one document, discrepancies and inconsistencies are minimized, and gaps are filled. Since all information is readily available in one place, stakeholders are ready for any emergency that may arise.

This is particularly true for organizations that leverage mobile crisis management tools. By incorporating all contingency plans into a single document, you make it easier for stakeholders to find the most relevant, up-to-date information for a specific emergency. This empowers employees, leadership and other stakeholders to act quickly and decisively, which improves emergency response and minimizes potential interruption to your organization.

Has your company or agency considered adopting an integrated contingency plan? In what ways do you think an integrated plan would impact your organization most?

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