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Integrating the Planning “P” into Your Business Continuity Plan

September 19, 2013 - Kestrel Management

Does your company have an existing Business Continuity Plan that includes an Emergency Action and Response Plan? If so, do these plans reference a pre-established company team to implement these plans?

Using the nationally approved Incident Command System (ICS) team concepts and the associated Planning “P” process to implement your Business Continuity Plan will help ensure that your company is using the same management system as first responders while they are on-scene. And when they leave, your team will be able to use the same planning process to assure that the company returns to sustainability for your customers.

Planning “P” Concepts

The Incident Command System (ICS) Planning “P” concepts are very similar to the private sector plan-do-check-adjust cycle that many companies use to manage projects and ensure that they are serving their customers as efficiently and effectively as possible. Some companies elect to use the Incident Command System Planning “P” process to manage company internal projects. The benefit of doing so is that when an incident does happen, the company team is already familiar with the Planning “P” process and can use it to manage the incident.

Planning PDissecting the “P”

The Planning “P” was developed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a visual tool for guiding the process that an Incident Management Team (IMT) uses in developing an Incident Action Plan (IAP) for an incident. The leg of the “P” describes the initial response period to an incident. Once the incident/event begins, the steps are notifications, initial response & assessment, incident briefing, and establishment of the first of a series of meetings.

Sequence of Meetings

At the top of the leg of the “P” is the beginning of the first operational planning period cycle. This clockwise circular sequence includes four meetings. Together, these meetings facilitate development of the Incident Action Plan (IAP), which is used to brief the incident personnel at the Operations Briefing. At this point, a new operational period begins.

  1. Objectives Meeting. The Incident Commander establishes the Command Post location, incident name, and incident objectives to cover the operational period for the incident. The operational period is the block of time (usually 8, 12, or 24 hours) that the Incident Management Team will have to work on the incident objectives. This period is very similar to a “work shift” in the private sector. For some incidents, it may take more than one operational period to accomplish the incident objectives. The cycle of the Planning “P” process is designed to take the incident objectives and break them down into tactical assignments for each operational period.

  2. Command and General Staff Meeting. The Incident Commander meets with Command and General Staff to gather input or to provide immediate direction for managing the incident that cannot wait until the planning process is completed. At this meeting, staff agrees on the process, times, and location of other meetings that are needed to develop the Incident Action Plan (IAP) for the next operational period.

  3. Tactics Meeting. The purpose of the Tactics Meeting is to review the tactics developed by the Operations Section Chief. This includes determining how the selected strategy will be accomplished in order to achieve the incident objectives. Other activities include assigning resources to implement the tactics, identifying methods for monitoring tactics, and determining if adjustments are required (e.g., different tactics, different resources, or new strategy).

  4. Planning Meeting. The Planning Meeting provides the opportunity for the Command and General Staff to review and validate the operational plan. At this meeting, the Operations Section Chief defines the amount and type of resources he or she will need to accomplish the plan objectives. The Planning Section Staff will state when of all elements of the plan are to be submitted so the plan can be readied for the Operations Period Briefing.

Operations Period Briefing

The Operations Period Briefing (also referred to as the Operational Briefing or the Shift Briefing) is conducted at the beginning of each operational period to present the Incident Action Plan (IAP) to supervisors of the tactical resources who will be working on the incident. Following the Operations Period Briefing, supervisors meet with their assigned resources for a detailed briefing on their respective assignments.

Execute Plan and Assess Progress

The final step, after which the cycle around the Planning “P” begins again, is Execute Plan & Assess Progress. The Operations Section Chief directs implementation of the plan during the established operational period. The supervisory personnel within the Operations Section are then responsible for implementing the plan for the specific operational period.

The Operations Section Chief may make adjustments during the operational period to ensure that the objectives are met and to further ensure effectiveness. During the operational period, all supervisors will keep track of what their resources have accomplished and provide this information to the Planning Section Chief to monitor progress in meeting incident objectives. This information will also be used to update the objectives in the Incident Action Plan for the next operational period.

The Planning “P” process continues for each operational period until all of the incident objectives have been met and the company is back to where it was before the incident, as per the guidance provide by the company’s Business Continuity Plan.

Your Business Continuity & Incident Command System (ICS) Resource

Kestrel’s core team comprises senior consultants with extensive EHS, quality management, operational risk management, and emergency response experience. We add to that expertise an industry leader with hands-on experience developing and establishing the Incident Command System, serving as an Incident Commander, and instructing the complete Incident Command System training coursework.

Our team can help you develop the systems and plans you need to effectively manage your business risks–no matter the size or complexity. For more information, contact us at 608-226-0531.

Submitted by: Tom Kunes

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