Do you have a crisis management plan that will get your company through a major emergency? When time is of the essence, merely having a plan is not enough to ensure your business can recover. To truly safeguard your organization, you must have a tested and refined crisis management plan in place to act swiftly and effectively.

A crisis management plan serves as a blueprint for guiding organizations through unexpected challenges. It is a comprehensive strategy with specific actions, roles, and responsibilities of each team member during a crisis. The object of having this type of plan is to help you maintain control, minimize damages, and facilitate a quick recovery.

A well-prepared crisis management plan enables teams to make timely, informed decisions based on predefined protocols and guidelines. With the right software, you can manage the entire crisis life cycle, from planning and preparedness to response and recovery, and take coordinated and quick action.

Five Critical Steps for an Effective Crisis Management Plan

Developing a plan that is effective and dependable requires a strategic approach. Here are five steps to help you create a crisis management plan that does more than just check the boxes.

  1. Involve the right people.  Establishing a strong crisis management team is one of the most important aspects of crisis management planning. Determine the key roles and respective responsibilities – and decide who best fits those needs. Important roles to consider including on your team are:

    Crisis management team leader is the primary decision-making authority during an incident. They set priorities for the team and lead the team before, during, and after an incident occurs.

    Crisis management coordinator gathers all the information necessary to inform decision-making. They facilitate conversation between the crisis management team and other groups involved in recovery and provide administrative support to the team.

    Crisis communications leader is responsible for internal and external communication.

    Functional representatives provide subject-matter expertise, such as:
    …..• Information technology
    …..• Facilities and security
    …..• Finance
    …..• Human resources
    …..• Operations
    …..• Legal

    Assembling an effective team takes more than simply assigning names to roles and tasks. Make sure each team member understands their assignment and has the knowledge, expertise, and authority to execute in the event of a crisis. Also, remember to assign an alternate for each role, so you have a safety net if the primary person is unavailable or unable to fulfill their responsibilities.

  2. Understand your important business services. Collaborate closely with your business continuity and resilience department to identify the functions and services critical to your company’s operations and assess where you are vulnerable. Focus your plan on mitigating disruptions and determining possible triggers for those types of impacts.
    It is important to concentrate on the impacts, not the causes. A crisis management plan is about providing services or maintaining operations with minimal disruption no matter what the cause. Taking this approach will allow you to develop specific strategies and allocate your resources most effectively.
  3. Develop an in-depth communication plan. Minimize chaos and fear within your organization with speedy and transparent internal communication. Provide regular updates in the event of a crisis to address concerns and clarify your expectations. Keeping your employees informed helps them to understand what’s going on without having to speculate, so they can focus on their tasks at hand.
    Equally important is effective external communication. Being transparent and proactive in your communication with customers and other outside stakeholders helps build trust, mitigate rumors, and protect your organization’s reputation. Leverage multiple communication channels – including traditional media and social media – to quickly reach a wide audience. Social media platforms, in particular, are beneficial for real-time updates to clarify misconceptions that may be floating around.
    The Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) failure highlights the importance of effective crisis communication. The bank issued a technical response in the form of a PDF on its website, which expressed the need to raise capital. While transparent, the document included language that labeled the viability of planned response strategies with caveats such as “potentially” and “probably,” which didn’t inspire confidence. There was also little coordinated communication on social media from SVB despite widespread stakeholder discussion and debate regarding the impending crisis on these platforms. Depositors panicked and requested mass withdrawals, which ultimately led to the bank’s insolvency.
  4. Practice your plan. Running your crisis management plan through multiple tests and simulations allows you to test its effectiveness and identify and address any weaknesses before a real crisis occurs.
    Practice also builds confidence and familiarity among your team members – and “muscle memory” for the plan. The more they drill the skills, tasks, and flow of a crisis situation, the better equipped they will be to handle real-life emergencies.
  5. Learn from experience. After conducting simulations, thoroughly debrief and evaluate the plan’s performance to identify areas that require adjustment. Encourage open communication among all participants during these sessions, as collaboration like this can uncover valuable insight. Consider the experiences of other companies as well. For example, Silicon Valley Bank can serve as a cautionary tale for anyone tempted to ignore social media.

A crisis management plan helps you prepare for an incident in advance so you can hit the ground running. Simply having a plan, however, is not enough to ensure your business survives if things get dicey. Practice executing your crisis management plan over and over until you get it just right to rise above the chaos and navigate challenges with confidence.

For more on crisis management download our ebook, Getting Started With Business Resilience, and check out Riskonnect’s Crisis Management software.