In a crisis situation, speed of the operational response and clarity of initial communications, both internal and external, are essential.
A Crisis Preparedness Plan provides a structure and process that coordinates all levels of the organization and puts the company back on the path to full recovery as quickly as possible. Here are six rules of thumb for a successful crisis plan:
1. Integrate the plan internally — and externally
Successful plans coordinate a company’s operations, its legal and communications functions. But the plan must also coordinate its response with external organizations including police, fire department, EMS as well as with your contract workers or any other organization with whom you work. They could very well be part of the crisis.
2. Keep it simple
Complexity harms a plan’s effectiveness. You can stream line your plan with tools such as checklists and various document templates.
3. Categorize the severity of the crisis
Not all crises have equal impacts, so developing a method for gauging severity is important so that the crisis response is proportional. You don’t want to under- or over-respond. Each organization will need to have its own metrics, such as the number of customers affected or the amount of money at risk from the crisis for assigning, say, a code yellow, orange or red.
4. Identify the most likely and most damaging crisis scenarios and plan for them
– with defined objectives, messaging, pre-written documents, etc. for each scenario.
5. Have prior approvals for “boiler plate” documents before a crisis hits.
A crisis team should be gaining approvals only for communications relating to the crisis at hand, not for materials that could have been vetted months in advance.
6. Conduct crisis simulation exercises.
Crisis plans must be tested and assessed one or two times each year through crisis simulation exercises.