Crisis Management Planning…©

By: Rebecca Folk, MBA, Marketing and Sales Support Manager

Paradigm Solutions International, Inc.

 To manage a disaster or any type of disruptive event, you need to have a Crisis Management Plan as part of your overall Business Continuity Plan. The following narrative contains information on what a Crisis is, what a Crisis Management Plan is, what to consider in Crisis Management Planning, what to consider in declaring a Disaster to activate a Crisis Management Plan, and why your organization needs a Crisis Management Plan.

What is a Crisis?

A crisis is a significant unexpected disruptive event that affects an organization’s Personnel, Facilities, Information Systems, or Critical Records, which in turn creates uncertainty and may dramatically impact profitability, reputation, or ability to operate normally if not handled in an appropriate manner.  The event could be large or small in nature, internal or external to the organization, and could be a natural disaster or human in origin.  In addition, often stimulates extensive news and media coverage. Public scrutiny resulting from the disruption/event will affect the organization’s normal operations and also could have a legal, financial, political and governmental impact on its business.  As well, depending upon the industry and whether the organization is publicly traded, there are specific laws that dictate how an organization must conduct itself in notifying stakeholders and the public of a crisis.   The laws have penalties for non-compliance, which may include levied fines and legal action with the possibility of incarceration.

What is a Crisis Management Plan?

A Crisis Management Plan is the communications and decision-making component of an overall Business Continuity Plan (BCP).  A thorough Crisis Management Plan facilitates rapid communication to ensure overall safety to both internal and external stakeholders.  As well, it incorporates policies and procedures to perform an impact assessment, and a plan to control media interaction during an event or crisis.

What to consider in Crisis Management Planning

Every organizations crisis management requirements will vary.  The key to Crisis Management Planning is to have a set of processes and procedures to be used as a guideline for crisis management.  Pre-developed crisis management plans and associated activities enable executives to effectively address a worst case or long-term crisis.    Specifically, organizational Crisis Management Planning should focus on:

  • Identification of the crisis management team (and others who might assist the team in certain situations)
  • Predefined organizational responsibilities for the crisis management team members that include concise procedures defining a person’s functions, duties and tasks for a crisis declaration
  • Sub- team composition and a notification process to bring together the appropriate internal and external individuals and organizational disciplines at the time of a crisis. (i.e Damage Assessment Team, etc).
  • A process for evaluating the response after the conclusion of any event that requires activation of the Corporate Crisis Management Plan and documentation of the Lessons learned and applied.
  • Contact lists for all internal and external stakeholders
  • An outline for Executive Managers and their alternates to react on a consistent basis to a potential or existing crisis.
  • Identification and establishment of a Crisis Management/Emergency Operations Command Center for directing the crisis event coordination with effected entities, such as the community, neighboring industries, and identified support entities (fire, police, hospitals, etc.)  – This should include identification of a primary, secondary and tertiary locations for the Command Center in the event of a widespread crisis.
  • The logistical details for notification and mobilization of the Crisis Management Centers and supplies/equipment needed, call notification lists and instructions, transportation options, identification of external authorities, organizations and individuals that may be required to be notified or can assist in the Crisis Management  process.
  • Travel logistics, such as a list of company-preferred  hotels, airlines, rental cars companies, and restaurants.
  • Guidelines for communicating to the public and the media, which includes who is authorized to represent the organization and what information, can/should be shared.    This ensures that communication is accurate and consistent throughout all channels.  Note:   Make sure to consider legal liability when communicating in a crisis situation.
  • Guidelines for Social Media usage which should outline  policies and procedures on utilizing this method and also a plan to  respond if an unauthorized individual breaks the news prior to your  release and how you manage the situation.
  • Guidelines for communicating crisis situations to both internal and external stakeholders.
  • Guidelines to assist in supporting, overseeing and directing activities to the internal Business Units, and external business partners/suppliers during a disastrous situation.
  • A process for communicating, training, and maintaining the currency of the Crisis Management Plan.
  • A process for  testing and verification of the processes contained in the Crisis     Management Plan

What to consider when declaring a Disaster and activating the Crisis Management Plan

The relative importance of the crisis may vary based on the situation encountered and significance to the company.  A disaster declaration should be based on the anticipated length of the disruption and the projected impact of the crisis on the business units involved.

Impacted business units should determine the number of hours that normal business operations can be interrupted before a disaster must be declared. This timeframe will vary among business units and is directly tied to the critical nature of the service being provided.  When the period of time that processing has been interrupted reaches the predetermined threshold, a disaster should be declared.

Only those who have been authorized to declare a disaster may do so.

Considerations when declaring a disaster:

  • Has there been loss of life?
  • Has or is there expected to be a loss of business or revenue?
  • Have critical applications or information been lost or compromised?
  • Are critical employees unable to perform their functions?
  • Is it expected that financial positions will be threatened?
  • Have services to customers been lost or jeopardized?
  • Have critical communications been lost or compromised?
  • Have physical facilities been lost or has access been prevented?
  • Has power been lost?
  • Has security been lost or jeopardized?
  • Are legal liabilities present?

Why you need Crisis Management Plan

Someone important in your organization thinks this is covered and that you have a crisis management plan in place.   A Crisis Management Plan as part of an organizations overall BCP program is imperative for an organization to seamlessly manage an unexpected event/disaster. Do you have a Crisis Management Plan to assist your organization?

Copyright © 2013, Paradigm Solutions International, Inc.

Crisis Management Planning

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