Writing an emergency, continuity or mitigation plan is no easy task. And, it certainly doesn’t take place in a vacuum. It is a lengthy and complicated process—one that oftentimes involves a lot of different people or organizations, aka stakeholders. These stakeholders may be internal, to include executive management, department heads, or other key personnel. Or, they may be external, ranging from suppliers to first responders to the community-at-large.

Regardless of their physical location, or their role(s) in the plan’s execution, these stakeholders share a vested interest in it, and should be engaged every step of the way. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to participate, and your organization or community will gain a better, stronger and more cohesive plan, among other things.

Here are the top five benefits of consistent stakeholder engagement:

1: Different Experiences, Fresh Perspectives – As individuals, all your stakeholders have their unique experiences, skills, ideas and opinions. When pooled, these can bring about best practices, improved procedures, new policies, etc., all of which you can easily incorporate into the plan at first writing or during the review process.

2: Better Communication, More Collaboration – Regular and open dialogue makes stakeholders feel more comfortable expressing their ideas or concerns. They’ll be more likely to speak candidly about what’s good (or bad) with the plan, and usually work closer with others to see it’s adopted or improved even faster.

3: Thorough Understanding, Increased Confidence – If stakeholders understand their role(s) and responsibilities with 100% certainty, and just as important, how they play into the big picture of preparedness, they’ll naturally feel more confident about the plan’s execution in an actual event.

4: Greater Involvement, Stronger Commitment – Encouraging stakeholders to participate in the writing, reviewing and testing of your preparedness plans gives them a greater sense of involvement. They will feel that they are making a difference to the organization or their community, and they’ll be even more committed to seeing the plan through to completion.

5: Higher Expectations, Improved Results – When stakeholders are engaged, they know what to expect in an emergency or disruption. They’ve been involved in the conversations, seen the plan in writing, and taken part in the exercises or tests. They know the desired results, and will be even more likely to make recommendations for improvement, if needed.

Don’t wait for a critical event to meet the many internal and external stakehol