Monday, June 27, 2011

When is a crisis plan out-of-date?

Recent oil spills, product recalls and natural disasters have identified major critical gaps in crisis planning processes. Systems change, authorities shift, equipment ages, new equipment is installed and, importantly, key people move.

A rapid response will save lives and property and should ensure minimal operational interruption, but there are a number of reasons why this may not be possible:

* ownership of the crisis management program have changed
* organisational changes have occurred across the business
* management expectations of crisis preparedness have altered
* emergency and crisis interface have not been tested recently
* new threats/risks have not been incorporated into the plan
* key stakeholders need reconfirming
* internal communication systems have not been validated recently
* loss of contact with essential agencies - fire, police, medical
* new employees are not familiar with contingency plans
* impact of "social media" in crisis has not been considered
* reputational and brand issues have shifted

A regular, formal crisis audit needs to be applied to confirm that all subsidiaries and contractors maintain the currency of their crisis plans. People become lazy about preparedness for crisis and live training exercises are the only way to ensure that crisis plans are functionally up-to-date.