We often get asked the same preparedness questions. These questions come from our online audiences as well as our clients during crisis simulation exercises or in everyday discussions. We decided to do this podcast based on these common questions. In this episode we discuss, risk assessments, crisis planning, different types of plans, simulation exercises and the importance of detailed scenarios.

Welcome to episode 22 of the PreparedEx podcast. In this episode, I will answer 4 common questions that we get from our audience as well as our clients. The focus is general preparedness but some of the questions are about exercises as that’s what we spend much of our time doing. Here are those questions and my answers in no particular order.

Q and A

  1. Why is it important to start with a risk assessment before developing a plan? This is fairly general and I will answer this from both a security planning standpoint as well as crisis management. There different types of plans within an organization. Some plans are required by law (regulatory agencies) and others are required by organizations that have corporate governance. Plans are made up of procedures and processes as well as other things that are relevant to the management of risk. We create these plans based on those risks that we analyze in the risk assessment process. If we can understand what we might be exposed to, we can then plan for those threats by developing a response plan.
  1. What are the most common plans that organizations implement to help them support their preparedness goals?

Standard plans are:

  • BCP: Business Continuity Plan – focus to keep the business moving during a disruption. These plans are developed based on the BIA (Business Impact Analysis) some organizations also call this COOP or continuity of operations.
  • ERP: Emergency Response Plan – main focus is on how we move people to safety during an emergency. These plans also require a risk assessment prior to the development of the plans. Often organizations that have facilities such as oil and gas, chemical, processing plants as well as warehousing and other critical business locations will have these plans. Many organizations also have these plans for office building also.
  • Crisis Communications Plan – although I’m not a communications expert, these plans often include the core scenarios that an organization may be exposed to. This is to help reduce the amount of time it takes to prepare media responses, stakeholder concerns and many other communication related responses. This plan is often owned by corporate communications and should be linked to the CMP – Crisis Management Plan.
  • CMP – Crisis Management Plan – this is a plan that supports an organizations corporate crisis management team during a crisis. It outlines how the team will facilitate the response by mobilizing the team quickly and effectively. It is not a guide in terms of what to do in specific situations, this is due to the fact that crises come in all shapes and sizes and you can’t plan for every conceivable scenario. This type of plan is really to help you get organized and manage the event in a structured manner. I really look at the CMP as a document that helps you create discipline from the very first few moments of the crisis.
  1. Why is it so important for organizations to have a crisis management plan in place?

It makes you disciplined and organized – training and familiarity with the plan will start to build discipline and the plan and a good process should also help your team be organized during a crisis. Unlike other plans that are developed around very specific risks such as disaster recovery plans that focus on systems, a crisis management plan has to be flexible as crises may vary so drastically that we can’t prepare every eventuality. We do sometimes see common scenario’s defined in crisis communications plans. This is so communications teams can have draft press releases and other stakeholder communications prepared in advance of those crisis that are at greater risk based on their organizations exposure. Crisis management plans focus on how the team will coordinate the response and communicate internally during a crisis rather than what will be said. So, I think the two most important aspects of having a crisis management plan in place is that it helps with being organized as well as it helps put structure (ok discipline) in place. There is a need to be disciplined from the very start of a crisis. If it’s a fast paced crisis, you will be lost without having discipline and the situation will run away from you.

  1. We often get asked about exercises and the why it’s important to create scenarios that are specific to a company and not to use general scenarios during exercises. This came up recently in a conversation with a colleague.

People learn through experiences and not through bullet pointed slides. The best way to learn is either fail or have an experience close to failing. In our world, failure could mean the loss of data, it could mean a fire that has burned down a building or in a worst case scenario, it could mean the loss of life. Experiencing

That’s it for episode 22 of the PreparedEx podcast, I do hope you enjoyed this episode, if you did, please feel free to share this podcast and rate us on iTunes. I also want you to check out crisis conferecnes.com which is our conference business that provides crisis management preparedness education and information to the corporate world. On October 4 through 6 we have 3 free webinars. If you go to crisis conferecnes.com you’ll find all the information including the presentation subjects, times and how to sign up for them. We look forward to seeing you on those webinars in October.