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Avoid Emergency Response Confusion

Assuming that a Business Continuity Plan is sufficient when dealing with emergencies may leave your company- your people and your brand in unnecessary peril- says Pete Agur.

Pete Agur   |   1st January 2014
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Pete Agur Pete Agur

Peter Agur Jr. is Chairman and Founder of VanAllen - a business aviation consultancy firm with...
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Do you understand the need for a specific BizAv ERP?
Assuming that a Business Continuity Plan is sufficient when dealing with emergencies may leave your company- your people and your brand in unnecessary peril- says Pete Agur.

When clients are asked if they have an Emergency Response Plan (ERP)- the answer is almost uniformly- “Yes”. As I probe- I frequently find their ERP is focused on Business Continuity. This is especially true when the company’s core business has little physical risk.

As you know- a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) protects the functionality of your business. But- a Business Continuity Plan is not the platform for responding to a Business Aviation event...or any of a myriad of other incidents that threaten your people and your brand. That is why having a specifically developed Business Aviation ERP is a great asset for the entire enterprise. An effective Business Aviation ERP addresses three specific arenas:

1. Taking care of the people.
2. Managing the information.
3. Supporting the recovery and investigations.

Over the past 20+ years- our firm has worked with over 600 companies in the development of their aviation-related emergency response capabilities. Thankfully- I can count on one hand how often those plans have been applied for a flying event. But- the processes- systems and training those companies developed for their aviation ERP have been used hundreds of times for other reasons (such as natural disasters- fires- automobile and motorcycle accidents- death in the workplace by natural causes and violence in the workplace). In any of these events- the three core competencies (taking care of the people- managing the information- and supporting the recovery and investigations) of an effective Business Aviation ERP can be applied to the great benefit of all.

Exercising Full Care
As a Board Member- simply declaring the need for an aviation ERP is not enough. In fact- doing only that may set the process up for failure. As important as it is- the Business Continuity Plan is usually “owned” by mid-level folks. But- an aviation ERP must be “owned” by a consortium of:

• Senior management to provide strategic guidance- policy implementation and the authority of the corporation to effectively address the HR and communications issues; • The aviation services team to support the technical and investigative responses; and • The BCP team to leverage their systems- processes and resources in support of the aviation ERP itself.

Unnecessary ERP Politics 
The goal of a rapid development of an aviation ERP is a motherhood and apple pie objective. Everyone will gladly embrace it in a team effort- right? Unfortunately- personal considerations- political issues and administrative barriers can abound.

On the personal and political fronts- every company has territories with boundaries. For instance- we have seen the BCP managers demand ERP responsibility for a variety of reasons. Elsewhere- ambitious managers seized control of the ERP with the best of intentions- or so it seems. In either case- mid-level managers do not have the authority and rarely the perspective needed to guide an aviation ERP’s development.

Administratively- positioning the responsibility for aviation ERP development with a middle manager practically guarantees its delay. After all- a mid-manager must cajole collaboration from peers who are juggling numerous other priorities. By placing the development of the aviation ERP with a senior executive demonstrates the priority of the effort. The executive to whom aviation reports is an excellent candidate as long as he/she is not the CEO. The CEO does not have the time to support the process.

Nevertheless- asking a senior executive to “reinvent the wheel” is not likely to be received with much enthusiasm. So- make the process easier:

1. Give him/her a template of a proven ERP process and document as a jump start. The ERP document and processes are a chicken-egg opportunity. The “Easy Button” is to begin with a comprehensive template. Then modify it to your culture- organization and operations. You can push that “Easy Button” by asking me for a copy of our proprietary ERP template. It is free. Just contact me at pagur@vanallen.com.

2. Educate participants about their roles and the ERP’s processes. Give them a common understanding of the context and issues involved in conducting an effective aviation ERP. The common three-step perspective mentioned at the beginning of this article streamlines the ERP development process. The Flight Safety Foundation and the National Business Aviation Association host public workshops each spring and fall- respectively. VanAllen conducts in-house workshops.

3. Practice- practice- practice.
The time to become competent to fight fires is not after the fire has broken out. Develop your organization’s ERP competence in three stages- and you will truly be ready when the bell rings:

A Start with a table-top walkthrough. Progress through the ERP checklist to troubleshoot the process. Confirm resources are in place- and educate the team on the big picture and their roles. Then- amend your ERP based on the discoveries from the table-top session. Repeat- if necessary. Then-
B. Exercise. The ERP exercise is also a developmental part of the process. Conduct an off-the-clock “classroom” exercise based on a likely scenario. At each critical juncture- probe variables and issues. Amend your ERP based on the discoveries from the exercise. Repeat- if necessary. Then-
C. Simulate. Keep the first one in a “class room” and off the clock to keep the pressure down and the learning up. If it goes well- graduate to a real-time simulation. Learn- adapt and repeat as necessary. An aviation ERP simulation should be conducted annually to keep everyone fresh and introduce new members to the team and processes.

By following these steps your organization will have an Emergency Response Plan you can rely upon to support your company- your people and your brand.

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