Monday, December 10, 2012


2012 has seen its fair share of crises in shipping accidents, environmental, pharmaceutical recalls and mining disasters. So many managers, executives and government leaders were not prepared to manage critical events. The fact is the worst case scenarios are occurring with greater frequency than ever before.

The constant call is for a documented crisis management plan that outlines the courses of actions to be taken and provides specific guidelines appropriate for complex and unpredictable occurrences.

A crisis management plan lays out the framework and process for the preparation of, and recovery from, a major event. The plan must provide an integrated structure that can operate across an operation seamlessly.  It should be simple and easy to apply to an organisation in terms of implementation, education, maintenance and continuous improvement.

The essentials of a basic plan are as follows:

Organisation. This should outline how the plan will work across your particular business or operation. It should include management philosophy towards crisis management and its link with emergency planning, issues management, product recall and security planning. It should outline who, in the corporate organisation, is responsible for the whole crisis management plan and emphasise the legal and regulatory requirements of the plan. It needs sufficient planning information about human resources support, reporting to senior management and essential items such as document control and security and confidentiality of material. Details as to who the plan is distributed to and the necessary plan revision instructions should be defined. A crisis management manual needs to be defined under this organisational heading. Details of the contents and its distribution and validation should be confirmed.

Team management. This lists how the team is structured and who should be in it. It needs to identify the different roles necessary to deal with responses at every level. It needs to identify the structure of teams, the qualification of those people involved.

The plan should clearly outline how teams interrelate during a crisis, lines of authority and core responsibilities. The leadership issue needs to be laid down and clear authority has to be detailed. Back-up and support teams and systems should be described. These procedures also need to detail who is responsible for the alarm or call-out (the required actions and authorities to mobilise the team).

Crisis “threats” identification. This element details the framework for threat assessment in order to provide a suitable response. It recognises the vulnerabilities of the organisation - the types of crises that could occur to a company or organisation. It should provide a clear definition about worst case scenarios. It needs to provide a process of identifying a wide range of threat exposures that may impact on the organisation. It should also outline the importance of these threat analyses to local conditions. Head Office should have its own set of threats and then each site and location should identify its own dedicated set of threats. This process should be documented as an annual requirement. These procedures should provide a description of the level and classification of the event in a common standard across the organisation.

Crisis response procedures. This step identifies how responses to the above threats are detailed. It confirms the necessary actions of the team relative to the response and control of the crisis. It sets out how the checklist of responses is listed. It determines how to go about identifying the most efficient response strategies. It should provide guidelines for the action responses of teams and support groups.

Control Centre and communication facilities support. The purpose of these procedures is to locate and equip a central control room for each crisis team. This item should identify a standard plan for the location and type of control room for the management of an incident.

These procedures should detail a secure location and lay out the necessary equipment to assist crisis teams in being kept informed and providing information regarding crisis events.

It should provide the equipment to interface with incidents in the field and the technical equipment details to communicate outside the location during crisis incidents. It should also provide facilities for logging and minuting the course of events.

Communication hardware and software should be detailed, particularly related to portable equipment and temporary back-up systems. It should detail external emergency, medical and security support availability.

Information Procedures. The requirement of this component of the plan is to list the methods and techniques to provide information about what has happened to a wide range of stakeholders. It should list the methodology of the message agenda control. It should identify internal and external audiences, including employees, the media, the community, government and so on. It should confirm the process of corporate transparency related to information flow and detail.

It should identify the spokesperson’s role and guidelines for dealing with the media, victims’ families, distressed personnel, investigators and security incidents.

Training and retraining standards. The training requirements need to be qualified in terms of teaching and education, plan validation, group workshops, desk-top exercises and full-scale simulations. This procedure should identify training policies, definitions of instructors’ competency and an overview of auditing procedures for the training plan.

A crisis is a non-routine event and an organisation needs to be able to adapt quickly to the unique challenges of an escalating situation.  The crisis plan provides courses of action for increased significance of decision making.