What happens if key senior personnel are not available or incapacitated during a disruption? Who has the authority to make decisions?

These are the questions answered by Orders of Succession. 

A more technical definition of Orders of Succession is:

Provisions for the assumption of senior offices or duties during an emergency in the event that any of those officials are unavailable to execute their legal or assigned duties.

In developing your Orders of Succession, consider the following questions to ask:

  • Who are the individuals that hold key leadership positions within our organization? 
  • If they were unable to perform their responsibilities or unavailable during a continuity event, who would take over in their absence? 
  • Are those in the succession line aware and properly trained to carry out these additional responsibilities? 
  • Has our organization conducted planning meetings to discuss the details of our succession lines and these responsibilities?

Orders of Succession should go three layers “deep”, meaning there should be a minimum of three people ready to assume duties in addition to the primary responsible person.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming decision-makers will be available in critical situation. Define your orders of succession as a part of a comprehensive Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan.