Steps For Designing a Crisis Management Plan
There are six steps for defining a crisis management plan that can be easily remembered
using the word "CRISIS." Each letter of the word stands for a critical step that is necessary
to be prepared to deal with a crisis. If you want to be fully prepared for an emergency, then
go through each of these steps:
Complete a Threat Analysis
Before you begin any planning or preparation, the smart thing to do is to do a threat
analysis to consider likely crisis situations. This is usually done in a brain storming session
by contemplating a list of likely disasters. These could include natural disasters like storms
or earthquakes or it could include man-made disasters like terrorist bombs or war. Other crisis
situations might result from loss of key data, computer systems, or cyber intrusion.
Although crisis planning usually is focused on these extreme situations, it would also be
possible to include possible threats from competitors, loss of key accounts, or unwanted
publicity due to misconduct by key employees. During the threat analysis phase, it is usually
best to consider the widest possible range of crisis situations for your organization, and decide
later which are the ones that you want to plan for in the next step - scenario planning.
Review Possible Contingencies - Scenario Planning
Now that you have listed the possible threats and crisis situations that your organization
might face, it is appropriate to define which ones are the most likely and perhaps most threatening.
Some situations might be obvious. For example, if your building is located near a major river
that is known to flood the area periodically, then this is a scenario for which you will want
to prepare. Other threats may not be as likely, but if they did occur, would be devastating.
For example the treat of a cyber-terrorist attack targeted at your firm might seem remote;
however, if it or a similar event occurred that caused the loss of all your important electronic
files and computer systems it might be an unrecoverable event unless you had a plan.
So, the key to this step is to select the most important contingencies and define the possible
scenario in more detail. In other words, if this particular contingency occurred, what would the
scenario look like? Defining what the situation would look like will help to define the recovery plans
for that scenario.
Identify Critical Preparations
After you have done some planning for the most likely or important scenarios, examine
the critical preparations that must be put in place. These could be critical infrastructure
like prepositions supplies, emergency kits, or back-up electrical generators. It could also
be other "hot sites" for computers or data centers that would take over in the event of loss
of your primary data centers. It might also include more mundane preparations like emergency
calling trees, home addresses and cell phone numbers for critical personnel.
Select and Appoint a Crisis Management Team
After you have planned for scenarios, and identified critical preparations, then you
must select and appoint a crisis management team. If you have multiple scenarios, then you
might have different people designated for the team depending upon the situation. Most importantly,
designate a clear chain of command for the team to take charge during a crisis. They must not
only have the responsibility, but also the authority to act and make decisions.
If both the lines of responsibility and authority are not clear, then there will be confusion
and arguments among the team when the crisis erupts which will cause them to loose focus
and valuable time better spent in dealing with the actual crisis itself. If there are critical
decision points where the team must get permission from the CEO or other key official, then
they must understand their scope of authority to act and how to quickly reach the final authority
during the crisis.
Defining the key players and how decisions will get made is important to the success of
the crisis management plan. Once the team is in place, they need to be trained and have an
opportunity to work together as they review the plans.