4 Steps to Assess the Operationalization of Your Crisis Response Plan
Although a growing number of organizations now recognize the importance of having a crisis response plan in place, unfortunately many of these companies still do not have a truly operational plan—one that will enable them to respond to a crisis quickly and effectively. In fact, a 2016 survey found that 70 percent of organizations that had experienced a crisis needed up to three years to fully recover their operations and reputation.
This indicates that organizations may not truly be prepared for a crisis, even if they have developed strategic emergency plans. The operationalization of a plan is a legitimate concern; it may mean the difference between the business thriving through a crisis—or having to shut its doors.
To see how your crisis response plan stacks up, we’ve listed four steps needed to assess its operationalization:
1. Examine accountabilities.
First, think about who is in charge of what during a crisis response. Who is responsible for managing the overall crisis response? How does this team or individual delegate other responsibilities, such as calling the police or helping to evacuate the building? Do individual stakeholders understand their role in a crisis, and does everyone have the resources necessary to do their part?
During an emergency, your people are your most valuable asset, and they play a vital role in helping the organization get through the crisis event. So it’s incredibly important to make sure your crisis plan works for your people and vice versa.
2. Consider potential vulnerabilities.
Meet with your crisis response team, department heads, executives and other key stakeholders to reassess your organization’s potential vulnerabilities. Does the crisis plan account for every possibility? If not, it is not fully operational. Now is the time to develop a new response for each new
vulnerability—before the next crisis strikes—and to make sure every stakeholder receives training on it.
3. Conduct mock crisis scenarios.
One of the best ways to assess your plan’s readiness is to actually put it to the test. Hold a table-top exercise, where you and other key stakeholders walk through every step of the plan. Or, stage a mock crisis, such as severe weather or an IT outage, and have employees go through their response as if it were a real emergency.
Afterward, gather stakeholder feedback on the organization’s response during the mock crisis. This simple exercise can reveal significant gaps in your plan and help your team to make the necessary improvements.
4. Examine previous crisis responses.
Of course, it’s always important to learn from any crisis and apply those lessons to your response plan moving forward. To assess how well your plan is performing, conduct a “lessons learned” session with your crisis response team, executives and other relevant individuals. Walk back through previous crises, examine the response and discuss what worked—and what didn’t. Then, be sure that wisdom is applied to the current plan.
These steps will help to give valuable insight into how well-equipped your organization and its people are to respond to an emergency event. This is also an opportunity to make sure your crisis plans are accessible by all stakeholders and that your team can quickly contact all employees during a crisis. If your plan falls short on these key features, consider incorporating a mobile crisis management app, which provides digitized versions of crisis plans, and delivers messages and push notifications, directly to stakeholders’ mobile devices.
Would you say your crisis response plan is fully operationalized? What techniques do you use to put it to the test?