Case Study:  Disaster and Terrorism Preparedness


Disaster preparedness took on a much higher priority at large corporations following 9/11 and other subsequent terrorist attacks and natural disasters around the world.  Bellwether received a grant to benchmark this with the primary objectives being to examine the state of corporate preparedness, identify best practices and enable companies to improve from each other.  Eight companies in financial services, technology, hardware, software, healthcare, utilities and telecommunications participated in the study.


Bellwether performed primary and secondary research to identify the key issues in risk assessment, corporate security, emergency management and business continuity and ascertain the information required of each of the participants. Data collection and validation of findings were conducted through a detailed questionnaire, structured interviews at each company and by a roundtable at which observations concerning the state of corporate preparedness and future initiatives were discussed.  Indices for Preparedness Need and Preparedness Capability were designed, populated using the data collected and graphically presented to enable a meaningful comparison of each participant irrespective of relative size and geographic footprint.

Analysis & Results

Collectively, the participating companies represented over $300 billion in revenues, 500,000 employees and 18,000 facilities worldwide.  They also had substantial experience with disasters resulting in business disruption, including 9 counts of terrorism, 32 natural disasters and 19 power outages, technological failures and other incidents. As a result, all had made substantial investments in disaster preparedness, although some relatively recently.  Investments had been made in system infrastructure, facilities, equipment and supplies and in developing standard operating procedures. Disaster needs and capabilities were generally closely correlated across companies with a higher degree of variation apparent at the functional level.  Taken as a whole, these companies were considered well prepared to cope with a disastrous event.

Benefits to Client

Although the companies that participated in this study had all substantially increased their preparedness, some corporate strategies were relatively new and were still being implemented.  In general, preparedness functions were not as tightly integrated as they might be and enterprise threat management is still emerging as a corporate competency for some.  The core value in this engagement lay in the opportunity for each company to compare itself to the others at a highly detailed level across all four key preparedness functions: risk assessment, security and other preventative measures, crisis management and business continuity.  Each was able to identify opportunities to improve their programs and solicit support to do so.