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Common Crisis Management Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Posted on Thu, Jul 13, 2017

Whether it a social media post gone wrong or an unexpected supply chain disruption, your company needs to be being able to identify potential crises, prioritize responses, and engage with stakeholders effectively. During a crisis, your company should be able to depend on a response plan in order to protect the financial and reputational aspects of your operations. Poor crisis management performance can be prevented with proper planning.

Below are six common crisis management planning mistakes that can negatively impact a response.

1. Failure to predict potential crisis situations: Your Company must determine potential crises, analyze them, and design responses to each. Regardless of the circumstances, every crisis has the potential to negatively impact the company’s reputation, daily operations, and financial performance.

In addition to planning for potential natural disasters, companies must plan for business continuity issues, operational hazards, and security vulnerabilities. Whether security vulnerabilities come in the form of a network intrusion, a computer virus, or an actual physical attack, site and electronic security should be taken into consideration when assessing potential threats.

2. Unclear communications plan on company positions: Pre-planned communications methods must be in place to state a company’s position on potential issues. Companies must be prepared to voice factual and timely information before falsehoods and negative public images spiral into rumors and publicity nightmares. A crisis will likely generate news coverage that may adversely impact employees, investors, customers, suppliers, and possibly the community. It may directly harm a company's reputation, offices, and revenues. Additionally, policies and procedures, as well as information regarding the organization should be developed well in advance of any crisis.

Companies should also establish effective communication pathways with local emergency services, hospitals, police, and fire departments. Any miscommunication can add to the duration of incidents and potentially expound upon the crisis scenario. Companies should identify support organizations during the crisis management planning process and make contact information available as necessary. A detailed and collaborative planning effort can equate to a faster recovery time, minimizing the ongoing effects of the disaster.

3. Insufficient regulatory compliance: Companies must be fully aware of the regulations and/or laws enacted by state or federal mandates that could affect company operations. Compliance costs are typically lower than the expenditures associated with non-compliance fines, litigation, reputational risk, and government mandated shutdown of operations. Companies must implement a budget, safety program, and preparedness measures that ensures regulatory compliance.

4. Overlooked prevention and mitigation measures: There are various communication and crisis response details and variables that must be considered and planned for. However, there may also be mitigation measures that can prevent crisis situations and proactively deter negative perceptions and actions. This may include performing safety and operational audits and assessments, additional personnel training and business continuity planning.

For example, business continuity combined with hurricane planning can prepare a company to react to an impending storm. In developing these plans, employees must have the resources, procedures, and safeguards to successfully mitigate its effects and sustain critical business processes.

Top View of Boot on the trail with the text Safety First.jpeg

5. Lack of effective Crisis Management Planning: Companies should prepare a plan for responding to all internal and external aspects of the crisis. A useable Crisis Management tool should include, but is not limited to the following:

  • A contacts database of response organizations/individuals
  • Stakeholder identification, assessment, and documentation tools and reports
  • Task scheduling, documentation, and reporting tools
  • Crisis Management performance assessment tool
  • Incident, exercise, and maintenance modes
  • Database containing all incidents and exercises, with ability to retrieve all documented conversations and tasks
  • Accessibility to multiple users simultaneously involved in multiple incidents
  • Integrated help system
  • Intuitive maintenance tools

6. Failure to establish a command hierarchy or structure: A Crisis Management Team (CMT) should be aware of their roles and responsibilities, and be properly trained to act on those responsibilities should a critical incident or crisis occur. It is not effective for a team to be established and assigned roles as a crisis is unfolding. Each member of the CMT must be in place and comfortable with their role long before an incident occurs. Inability to provide clear specific duties, tasks, or functions for each team member during a crisis will create indecision, confusion, and an inability to perform at optimal levels.

For a crisis management plan to be properly initiated, those selected for the crisis management team should understand established response policies, the context of crisis communications, and their individual responsibilities. A strategic response framework with checklists and criteria that can guide the decision-making process should be developed and tested prior to a crisis.

7. Failure to exercise: It's one thing to have a plan in place, but if the response team has never practiced potential scenarios, the plan is not likely to be effective. Lessons learned and plan updates (including updated contacts and procedures) should be readily available and provided to all crisis response team members. Each member should be included to practice elements in the plan on a regular basis.

8. Failure to establish workable format: The response plan should be in a format that is intuitive and easy to use. In some cases, a quick reference guide should be readily available to all team members.

9. Failure to evaluate and update: If the crisis management plan is exercised or activated, team members should review results and feedback to determine if adjustments should be made. Lessons learned from exercises and incidents have demonstrated that many companies lack the tools to properly manage a response. In order to take response efforts to the next level, action items resulting from the exercises should be completed in a timely manner.

Specific recovery guidelines provide agreed-to procedures to help facilitate an expedited return to normal operating conditions.

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Crisis Management

Corporate Crisis Management Plans - Stabilizing the Chaos

Posted on Thu, Sep 15, 2016

As Southwest Airlines experienced over the 2016 summer, unforeseen circumstances can land companies in precarious situations. The airline experienced technology failures in the height of the summer travel season, yet met the crisis scenario with swift implementation of their crisis management plan. Although nearly 2,000 flights were cancelled and an estimated 250,000 passengers were stranded, Southwest Airlines’ multichannel crisis communication approach upheld the company’s reputation as a customer-focused airline.

Regardless of the circumstances, every crisis has the potential to negatively impact a company’s reputation, daily operations, and financial performance. Companies must have a clear understanding of their impacted audience, whether it be their employees, customers, or a community, and tailor a crisis management plan accordingly.

Crisis Management Team Activation

Activating a response team that can deliver swift and effective responses is the bridge to stabilizing a crisis situation. In order for a crisis management plan to be properly initiated, employees and responders should understand established response policies and intended context of emergencies communications. A strategic response framework with checklists and criteria that can guide the decision-making process must be developed and tested prior to a crisis in order for the scenario to be stabilized.

Crisis Communications

A tested crisis communications plan is instrumental in minimizing chaos. Communication policies and procedures should be developed as part of the planning phase, not on the verge of, during, or in the aftermath of a disaster. Through pre-planning, a communication plan can be fully integrated into the overall crisis management plan.

Response communications must be timely, transparent, and dynamic in order to defuse incident escalations and potential rumors. Unfortunately, during the height of a crisis, bleak realities and raw emotion often alter communication agreements and promote misinformation. In this 24/7 information age highlighted by real-time social media connections, an exercised communications plan should include informational jurisdiction decisions about what to release, by whom, and when.

Southwest Airlines utilized multiple social media channels in order to address the technical failure and subsequent customer complaints. The company’s multiple live Facebook video feeds kept customers up-to-date on the current state of the technology challenges. In total, the feeds received over one million views. This targeted approach minimized the potential perceived incompetence that could have resulted from a lack of communication and should be a lessons learned for other companies.

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Engaging with media outlets and the exponential number of layperson journalists can be an unnerving element of a response. Through crisis management planning, specialized training, and all-inclusive exercises, companies can stabilize potential chaotic public relations scenarios. The more detailed the information, the less room for interpretation. In order to regulate inaccurate perceptions, initial communications should contain the following elements:

  • A brief, focused, and factual description of the situation and initial response actions
  • Processes established to minimize and counteract the emergency
  • An expression of empathy and apologies to impacted parties
  • Access to subject matter experts to answer media inquiries
  • Timing for media follow-up but only promise what can be delivered
  • A statement of commitment to return to “business as usual”

Crisis Recovery Guidelines

Specific recovery guidelines provide agreed-to procedures to help facilitate an expedited return to normal operating conditions. A detailed and collaborative planning effort can equate to a faster recovery time, minimizing the ongoing effects of the disaster. Potential risks and associated consequences must be identified and planned for prior to an emergency in order to react efficiently.
When developing crisis management plans, companies should consider the following questions:

  • Are clear and accurate internal notification and activation procedures in place to mitigate the crisis? Is all contact information up-to-date?
  • Are procedures specified to enable trained observers to confirm, characterize and quantify the impact of the crisis?
  • Can the incident be reported rapidly and reliably to the on-site staff to take action?
  • Who is able to provide responders with the necessary information to accurately respond?
  • Can further planning and response mobilization be implemented and communicated based on current and potential site specific conditions?
  • Is there a reliable model to provide timely prediction of immediate, intermediate and long-term impacts and how will this be relayed to your targeted audience?
  • Does the initial assessment indicate obstacles to mounting a response? Can these be mitigated based on a risk assessment?
  • Have procedures been tested with appropriate responders?
  • Are multi-channel communications and backup systems available and reliable?
  • How does social media and the various media outlets tie into the crisis management plan?

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Crisis Management

3 Critical Pre-Planning Elements for Effective Crisis Management Plans

Posted on Thu, Sep 01, 2016

The first hours and days of a crisis situation are the most critical. High pressure environments and atypical events often breed additional chaos and public relations nightmares that can rapidly tarnish a company’s sterling reputation. Whether you're company has a few domestic locations or an extensive international network of offices and facilities, designing a comprehensive Crisis Management Program (CMP) with a means for effective communication is essential to the continued success of your company.

From the minute an incident occurs, a company’s response can be publicly scrutinized and analyzed by the masses. The modern pathways of communication are so quick, companies must have solid communication and crisis management plans. Any response plan should be tested for effectiveness in the planning phase, not on the verge of, during, or in the aftermath of a disaster. Through pre-planning, a communication plan can be fully integrated into the overall crisis management plan and be available at the onset of an incident.

Crisis Communication Planning

Communication pre-planning should include, but is not limited to, the following:

1. Notification methods: The standard "phone tree" has evolved to include a variety of dynamic communication formats. Do not assume that internal and external responders, stakeholders, and those impacts by the crisis scenario identify with current company communication policies, formats, or context of emergencies communications. Pre-planning efforts should include establishing and exercising coordinated notification processes, formats, and various content.

Most professionals have several phone numbers, multiple email addresses, and can receive SMS (text) messages and digital images. As a result, a clear crisis communication notification methodology must be established.

The primary notification of a crisis situation should be made by telephone or radio to ensure leadership has received the critical information to begin response procedures. All known information regarding the scenario should be provided, including but not limited to:

  1. Type of event (technology, fire, explosion, etc.)
  2. Immediate impact
  3. Location of incident
  4. Any casualties or injured parties

In an effort to minimize the communication gap between a company and the general public, companies should establish social media notifications as part of their crisis communication planning. According to a Pew Research Center October 2015 publication entitled “Social Media Usage: 2005-2015”, nearly 65% of American adults utilized at least one social media platform in 2015 compared to only 7% in 2005. As mobile technology is adopted by a greater percentage of society, those statistics should continue to grow.

Utilizing social media as a tool for Corporate Crisis Communications has numerous benefits including, but not limited to:

  • Opens up a dialogue to reduce miscommunication and rumors
  • Informs public of potential threats, impacts, and applicable countermeasures
  • Communicates mobilization of internal coordinating teams, staff, and/or volunteers
  • Improves externally communications with agencies and people affected by the crisis
  • Provides real-time updates and allows company personnel to have a first-person awareness of a situation.
  • Active communication demonstrates that the company values emergency preparedness and response and its implications to the community
  • Eliminates an information bottleneck
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2. Contact Verifications: Primary and secondary contact information should be verified for personnel, responsible agencies, and contracted responders. Verification should be conducted on a periodic basis in order to maintain accurate and applicable information. Communication equipment, such as hand held radios and satellite phones, should be verified as functional and tested periodically to ensure they are available when necessary.

One of the greatest challenges in preparedness and response planning is the continual effort to maintain up-to-date contact database. Dedicated man-hours or an automated cycle of contact verification should be in place as part of the maintenance phase of planning.  A contact verification tool that integrates with a web-based, database driven response plan can save timely maintenance efforts and can eliminate a potential lapse in emergency response. Without valid phone numbers, even a call out system is voided if the contact’s information is inaccurate. Every effort should be made to regularly confirm contact information with partnering entities that are involved in a response.

3. Strategic Considerations: While the specific circumstances will define a crisis response strategy, basic communications processes typically remain consistent. Establishing a systematic framework with checklists and response criteria can guide crisis manager through the communications decision-making process to allow for an effective response.

If the crisis warrants, the pre-identified crisis management team would be responsible for developing media strategy, public statements, and key messaging, as well as identifying and briefing one or more spokespersons to deliver the pre-approved messages to media outlets. A specific individual or individuals should be assigned to media/public relations to ensure messaging consistency and information availability.

Emergencies and crisis scenarios do occur and companies must respond swiftly and effectively. There can be a multitude of communication and response details, variables, and eventualities that must be taken into consideration and planned for. Yet, timely responses and proactive communication in the early stages of a crisis can dramatically reduce the negative implications of an emergency scenario.

Corporate Crisis Management

Tags: Crisis Management, Communication Plan

Tips for a Company-Wide Response Planning Review

Posted on Thu, Jul 21, 2016

Terrorism, cyber-attacks, and natural disasters continue to impact companies around the globe at seemingly extraordinary rates. As these threats become increasingly complex and company profiles include intricate networks of technology, human resources, and global influences, corporate preparedness programs and applicable response plans need to be reviewed and tested for effectiveness and accuracy.

A thorough review should include information gathering regarding potential risks and threats to operations, as well as the status of current response plans, response competencies, and applicable regulatory requirements. It is critical to analyze various risks, threats, and on-site emergency response capabilities, as they are essential for responsible preparedness and core components of response plans.

 

Preparedness Documentation Review

While each facility has unique response planning needs and capabilities, the following general preparedness documentation, if applicable, should be reviewed and tested in relation to the identified site-specific threats:

  • Safety and health procedures
  • Environmental policies
  • Security procedures
  • Finance and purchasing procedures
  • Mutual aid agreements
  • Communication policy
  • Employee training manuals
  • Hazardous materials information
  • Business Continuity Plan
  • Risk management Plan
  • Hurricane/Tornado/Flood Plans
  • Evacuation Plan
  • Fire Pre-Plan

 

Collaborative Response Review

The review of company response plans should include debriefings with collaborative response entities. Meetings with these outside responders should confirm specific plan and response procedures details that can be carried out in accordance with collective best practices and company protocols. Groups to consider in planning reviews include, but are not limited to:

  • Local responders (fire, police, emergency medical services, etc.)
  • Government agencies (LEPC, Emergency Management Offices, etc.)
  • Community organizations (Red Cross, weather services, etc.)
  • Utility Company(s) (gas, electric, public works, telephone, etc.)
  • Contracted Emergency Responders
  • Neighboring Businesses

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Response Plan Review

Response plans must serve site-specific preparedness measures and meet precise planning objectives in order to be relevant and effective. Below is a list of basic response planning components that should be included in the preparedness review. These planning components should must be reviewed, confirmed, and updated as necessary in order for each facility to meet response objectives associated with each potential threat, risk or emergency scenario:

  • Site-specific response procedures
  • Response team frameworks and assigned personnel to fill primary and alternate roles
  • Effectiveness of notification and emergency response team activation procedures.
  • Communication procedures
  • Primary and alternate Emergency Operations Center location
  • Necessary response equipment
  • Response team and personnel response training
  • Mitigation procedures and protective actions to safeguard the health and safety of on-site personnel and nearby communities
  • Availability of responders and supply chain resources
  • Regulatory compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal requirements for environmental hazards, response plans, and training
  • Best practices and lessons learned integration from past training and exercises, actual emergencies, and incident reviews

 

Crisis Management Plan Review

As new vulnerabilities evolve and risk potentials unfold, every effort should be made to include crisis management response processes and procedures to the most likely emergency scenarios relevant to your site. A Crisis Management Plan (CMP) can minimize the escalation effect; such as a company’s short and long-term reputation, adverse financial performance, and overall impingement of company longevity. The associated level of preparedness may mean the difference between a crisis averted and an exhaustive corporate disaster.

The following concepts should be utilized when developing CMP:

PREDICT: Identify all potential threats to “business as usual” operations.
PREVENT: Take preventive measures to avert emergency situations and establish necessary communications platforms. This also includes generating effective response procedures and recovery processes for a variety of potential threats in order to minimize the extent of impacts.
PLAN: Prepare a plan for responding to all internal and external aspects of the crisis. This may include identifying and communicating with media and all audiences that may be affected by each crisis situation.
PERSEVERE: Follow your tested plan and be flexible if circumstances require additional support. Be sure to communicate ongoing activities to inform employees, stakeholders, and the public. Proactive efforts, honesty, empathy, and preparedness will assist in maintaining company viability and reputation.

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Response Plans, Crisis Management

Essential Elements for a Successful Company Crisis Management Response

Posted on Thu, Jul 09, 2015

Crisis situations can erupt suddenly and without warning. Most successful responses result from a prepared strategy, with a cooperative understanding of the incident, response roles, and assigned responsibilities. It is critical that a crisis management framework, response measures, and communication strategies be established and exercised before a crisis actually occurs.

“Drive thee business, or it will drive thee” – Benjamin Franklin

Regardless of the circumstances, every crisis has the potential to significantly impact a company’s short and long-term reputation, daily operations, and financial performance if the situation is not handled properly. Resolutions require a prepared crisis management plan (CMP) with flexible, yet pre-identified responses and actions. A CMP should be viewed as a reference tool, not a stagnant directive.

The following concepts should be utilized to generate effective corporate crisis management plans:

Potential threats: Identify all potential threats to “business as usual” operations. This can range from safety incidents and life-threatening emergencies, to social media glitches and human resource controversies.

Evaluate responses: Since each crisis is unique and comes with varying degrees of impact, each potential threat must be evaluated and resolved individually based on:

  • The potential impact on current and potential clients and customers
  • The potential impact to employees and the company
  • Stakeholders interested in the outcome of the incident
  • The level of control the company has over the situation
  • Complexity of the crisis and specialists required

Position: Determine the company’s public position or viewpoint for each potential issue. A public relations strategy and communications plan to relate this information should be established.

Mitigation Measures: Take preventive measures to avert emergency situations and proactively deter negative perceptions, including generating effective response procedures and recovery processes for a variety of potential threats.

Plan: Prepare a CMP for responding to all internal and external aspects of the crisis. This may include identifying all stakeholders that may be affected by each crisis situation, communicating effectively, and collaborating with additional necessary resources.

Persevere: Proactive efforts, honesty, empathy, and preparedness will assist in maintaining company viability and reputation. Utilize your plan, modify per incident specifics, and communicate company positions and ongoing activities to counteract the incident commotion.

The composition of a crisis management team (CMT) will vary depending on the nature and scale of the crisis. Depending on the requirements, following roles may be designed to provide the company with the essential functions necessary to manage most events (*denotes support positions activated as necessary):

1. Crisis Manager (CMT Team Leader) - Approve theCMP  and provide overall leadership.

2. Security Advisor - Provide input regarding security related procedures contained in the CMP during scheduled plan reviews, and provide guidance regarding current or potential security issues during a crisis.

3. Public Affairs Advisor - Provide input and participate on all aspects of Crisis Communications.

4. Medical Advisor - Assess and assist in human health impacts during a crisis.

5. Human Resource Advisor -– Provide guidance relating to communications with employees, and work to minimize impacts to employees and their families. Maintain a current, accessible contact list of all employees, contract employees, and responders,

6. Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Advisor (HSSE) – Provide guidance regarding actual or potential environmental, safety, and health issues related to the crisis. Coordinate direct implementation, and training and updating of Incident Response Plans.

7. Legal Advisor - Ensure a Legal representative is available at all times in case of a crisis to assess potential legal impacts of response actions and communications.

8. CM Advisor - Supervise and coordinate necessary support roles. However, individual Aides may be assigned to work directly under any core CMT position to fill a specific need. Also responsible for the readiness of a Crisis Management Center, if necessary.

9. *Aide(s) - Administrative resource(s).

10. *Business Unit Advisor(s) - Anticipate Business Unit issues, develop strategic plans to proactively address these issues, and adjust staffing of Business Unit Group to suit evolving incident needs.

11. *Subject Matter Expert(s) (SME) - Be available to assist crisis manager on as “as needed” basis. Examples of potential SMEs may include specialized technical, legal, or environmental experts

CMPs and activated CMTs are of little value to a situation if they are never tested on realistic crisis scenarios. Exercising a plan with established and communicated objectives and expectations can vastly improve the effectiveness of required responses, the decision making process, and task-related performances.

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Crisis Management

Corporate Crisis Management Plans and Team Roles

Posted on Thu, Dec 18, 2014

Corporate crises come in a variety of forms, ranging from social media glitches to mass casualty situations. Regardless of the circumstances, every crisis has the potential to negatively impact a company’s short and long-term reputation, daily operations, and financial performance. Resolutions require a prepared crisis management plan with flexible, yet pre-identified responses and actions. Informative communication and proactive, actionable procedures can minimize the impacts associated with corporate crises.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”. -Warren Buffett

A properly developed and implemented crisis management plan can result in:

  • Crisis resolution
  • Continuation of business as usual
  • A preserved, or possibly enhanced corporate reputation
  • Financial sustainability

It is critical that a basic crisis management planning framework, response measures, and communication strategies be established and exercised before a crisis actually occurs. Most successful responses result from a prepared strategy, with a cooperative understanding of the incident, response roles, and assigned responsibilities. Since each crisis is unique and comes with varying degrees of impact, each crisis must be evaluated and resolved individually based on:

  • The potential impact on current and potential clients and customers
  • The potential impact to employees and the company
  • Stakeholders interested in the outcome of the incident
  • The level of control the company has over the situation
  • Complexity of the crisis and specialists required

A crisis management team (CMT) may be activated for any situation that involves a threat to people or property, a business interruption that could have a negative financial impact, or an incident that may result in damage to the company's reputation and/or financial well being. CMTs, often comprised of a small group of senior managers, typically respond, coordinate, and set necessary actions in play according to the specific crisis situations. The team members should be trained to manage an array of potential crises, additional risks and exposures, and management stakeholder interests.

Depending on the crisis planning and crisis management requirements, the following CMT roles may provide a company with the essential functions necessary to manage crisis situations.

  • Crisis Manager: Approves the Crisis Management Plan and provide overall leadership
  • Security Manager: Reviews and revises the plan on necessary security related procedures
  • Public Affairs Advisor: Participates in all aspects of Crisis Communications
  • Medical Advisor: Assess and assists in human health impacts of crises
  • Human Resource Advisor: Maintains a current, accessible contact list of all employees, contract employees, and responders
  • Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Advisor: Coordinates the implementation, training, and updating of Incident Response Plans
  • Legal Advisor: Ensures the availability of legal representative related to crises
  • Crisis Management Advisor: Supervises and coordinates necessary CMT support roles.  Individuals may be assigned to work directly under any core CMT position to fill a specific need. Support roles may include:
    • Aide(s): Administrative resource(s)
    • Business Unit Advisor(s): Anticipates Business Unit issues, develops strategic plans to proactively address these issues, and adjust staffing of Business Unit Group and to suit evolving needs
    • Subject Matter Expert(s): Be available to assist crisis manager on as “as needed” basis.

If the crisis warrants, the pre-identified crisis team would be responsible for developing media strategy, public statements, and key messages, as well as identifying and briefing one or more spokespersons to deliver the pre-approved messages to media outlets. A specific individual or individuals should be assigned to media/public relations to ensure messaging consistency and information availability.

While the specific circumstances will define a crisis response strategy, basic communications processes typically remain consistent. Companies must be tuned into the vast digital network of social chatter. Viral rumors and antagonistic communications can often be inhibited with a timely, factual, and proactive crisis communications campaign.

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Tags: Resiliency, Crisis Management, Facility Management, Event Preparedness

The Role of Communications Planning in Business Continuity

Posted on Thu, Nov 06, 2014

The primary goal of business continuity planning is to efficiently restore operations through predetermined, systematic processes and procedures. However, in order to minimize the impacts and rapidly respond to operational hindrances, companies must ensure business continuity communication methods and procedures are clearly defined and functional.

Communication planning is an intricate part of preparedness and any continuity process. Clear and effective communication channels must remain available in order to disseminate information to employees, assess and relay damage, and coordinate a recovery strategy. Failed communication often results in failed business continuity efforts. Thoroughly planning, testing, and exercising communication procedures within the following four phases is essential to ensure effective business continuity and viability of critical business operations.

1. Notification- The notification process begins upon the anticipation or discovery of a business continuity situation. Appropriate personnel and applicable business unit managers should be initially notified and updated on the current scenario. The initial notification format can be dictated by company policy, however all known information should be provided at that time, including:

  1. Location of impact or potential impact
  2. Scenario details (fire, explosion, etc.)
  3. Implementation timeline

The person responsible for each critical business process should begin documenting response actions.  Necessary continuity information should be maintained and updated as necessary to ensure all management and affected personnel can quickly initiate proper actions.

In the planning phase, initial communication procedures, available communications equipment, and alternative communication formats should be evaluated.  Initial and back up communication formats should be agreed upon during training and exercises to certify that managers, continuity personnel, external suppliers, and possibly the public receive pertinent messages.

Primary and alternate resources contact information should be included in the business continuity plan (BCP) to ensure consistent delivery and continued operations in the event suppliers are subjected to business continuity circumstances. Up-to-date contact information for internal and external responders should be verified for accuracy.

2. Verification - Verification of contact information for personnel, continuity supervisors, and external responders should be done on a periodic basis. Business continuity planners must be certain that new employees are included in the plan, as necessary, and that notifications are being delivered to accurate e-mail addresses and/or contact numbers.

If maintaining accurate contact information is challenging, consider opting for an e-mail notification verification system that enables the contact to verify their information through hyperlinks. Companies can also offer incentives, such as drawings or prizes, to encourage all personnel to verify contact information as requested.

3. Stabilization - Stabilization is the result of the corrective actions initiated by the business continuity coordinator, business unit managers, and response personnel. Stabilization includes such actions as initiating proper notifications and implementing a procedural course of action. Planners should identify and procure necessary communication equipment and establish processes for continued operations and recovery. This will prevent unnecessary downtime and additional recovery efforts. Effective communications is the bridge to stabilization.

4. Recovery - Recovery begins once the affected area, personnel, equipment, and/or operations are accounted for and stabilized. Recovery communications includes actions such as damage assessment reporting, interactions with response personnel, removal and disposal of disruptive element, and safety verification prior to reentry or a return to operations. The lines of communications need to remain open in order to return to a “business as usual” level.

Developing relationships and common understandings of roles and responsibilities prior to a continuity event increases overall communication, post-disaster collaboration, and unified decision-making, streamlining the recovery process.

Upon termination of the incident and restoration of operations, an oral and written critique of the response should be conducted among personnel and the key business continuity members.  Communicating through evaluations and post-incident summaries can lead to the identification of continuity challenges and procedural obstacles. Items requiring action should be documented, communicated to involved parties, and tracked to ensure that potential corrective actions are identified and mitigation efforts are completed.

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Tags: Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Crisis Management, Communication Plan, Business Continuity Plan

Global Response Planning Extends Beyond Operational Hazards

Posted on Thu, Oct 09, 2014

Current world events, such as the Ebola outbreak, ISIS threats, and Super Typhoon Vongfong continue to alter the focus of emergency management. With each pandemic, security crisis, natural disaster, or emergency incident, a renewed emphasis on specific preparedness initiatives and associated countermeasures evolves. Despite site-specific operation hazards, a well-developed response plan should examine all risks and vulnerability factors in order to provide employees with the knowledge, procedures, and resources necessary to respond appropriately to any situation.

When companies expand globally, identifying, evaluating, mitigating, and planning for continually evolving location-specific risks and vulnerabilities is challenging. Those with the responsibility of global preparedness and planning must address site-specific regulatory compliance measures, inherent risks (including operational and location-specific), technological and physical security needs, and each operational response plan component. Cultural disparities, infrastructure challenges, or security provocations may leave sites vulnerable to particular events and heighten the urgency of preparedness initiatives and planning efforts.

Preparedness, operational sustainability, and employee safety requires a streamlined, coordinated, and exercised response plan. Response plans must be developed to account for each potential emergency and non-emergency scenario that could impact or cause damage to a particular facility or its operations.  Aside from innate operational hazards, both physical site security and electronic security must be considered in preparedness measures. (Note: A security breach is just as likely to come in the form of a computer hacker or virus as it is from an actual intrusion, uprising, or physical attack.)

While emergency scenarios may affect the safety and health of employees, operations, and/or the facility infrastructure, non-emergency situations can arise that potentially impact company reputation and operational longevity.  A poorly managed situation can negatively affect a company’s reputation, business interests, and relationship with key regulators and partners.

Below are some crisis management situations that could affect business continuity for companies with multinational facilities. Business continuity and crisis management plans should be developed for each of these scenarios that could likely cause significant damage to the business.

Environmental Stewardship: Disparity in international, country, state, county and corporate environmental standards.  Environmental regulations may vary regarding:

  • Facility or site requirements
  • Transportation
  • Hazardous spills
  • Equipment safety
  • Fire fighting methods
  • Gas releases

Natural Disasters: Each geographic location has specific historical and potential natural threats.

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Sand/wind storms
  • Tornados
  • Flooding
  • Tsunami

Employee issues: While every facility must prepared for potential employee issues, global companies must pay specific attention to:

  • Cultural differences
  • Language barriers
  • Labor relations challenges
  • Workplace discrimination or harassment
  • Disgruntled workers
  • Health and safety disparagements

Marketing: Global markets and unethical business practices can create non-emergency scenarios resulting in the need for crisis management:

  • Price gouging
  • Supply availability
  • Recalls
  • Deceptive business practices

Security Breach: A security breach can affect multiple aspects of a company, from business continuity to the physical safety of employees.

  • Computer hacking
  • Catastrophic IT failure
  • Facility security measures
  • Civil unrest
  • Personnel/employee security

Corporate Governance:  Corporate changes can initiate unrest, disrupt operations, and company reputation:

  • Mergers
  • Organizational restructuring
  • Downsizing
  • Facility closings
  • Management successions/promotions
  • Financial reporting integrity

Industry/Sector Issues: As industry specific equipment, regulatory advancements, and technologies evolve, preparedness should continually adapt to include safety processes, continuity procedures and best practices.

  • Supply disruptions
  • Punitive regulations

Illegal Activity: Faults in humanity may be intensified by location specific conditions, supply and demand, and/or greed. Preparedness measures should include business continuity and crisis management procedure for the following circumstances:

  • Extortion
  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Malfeasance
  • Criminal Investigation

Political/Social issues: As companies strive to be profitable, political and social issues can interfere with daily operations. Situations that may affect productivity include, but are not limited to:

  • Human rights
  • Terrorism
  • War
  • Political or social unrest
  • Economic disparity
  • Discrimination
 

Have locations across the globe? Download TRP Corp's free guide,"Response Planning for Large Organizations with Multi-Facility Operations".

Multiple Facility Response Planning Company Preparedness Guide DOWNLOAD

Tags: Social Unrest, Business Continuity, Resiliency, Crisis Management, Incident Management, Terrorism Threat Management, Workplace Safety

Oil Spill Response Planning, Drones, and Spill Surveillance

Posted on Thu, Sep 04, 2014

Oil spill response planning and preparedness are necessary to satisfy applicable regulatory requirements, protect the environment, and ensure safety for responders and employees. Yet, all plans related to oil spills have one common thread: minimize the impacts!

Effective oil spill response plans can minimize the impacts associated with an oil spill. The objectives of these plans, regardless of type of facility, are to:

  • Allow response personnel to prepare for and safely respond to spills
  • Ensure an effective and efficient response that takes geographical challenges into account
  • Outline spill response procedures and techniques at specific locations
  • Improve regulatory compliance efforts
  • Identify potential equipment, manpower, and other resources necessary to implement a spill response

History has proven that a single oil spill can have significant impacts to the environment and the responsible party. Off-site spill responses and containment efforts present unique challenges compared with spills occurring within the confines of the facility or secondary containment. These migrating spills require a higher level of coordination, communication, and surveillance in an effort to minimize downstream impacts.

It is critical to identify and provide detailed information regarding area socio-economic and natural resources and vulnerabilities that may be damaged if a spill were to occur. This information should guide response personnel to make reasonable, well-informed response actions to protect public health and the environment. Detailed information of downstream vulnerabilities and applicable response procedures should be included in an oil spill or tactical response plan.

Spill surveillance should begin as soon as possible following the discovery of a release to determine the appropriate response tactics. One future option for surveillance is the use of commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or more commonly known as drones. The push for commercial use of drones is gaining momentum as affordable devices are increasing in popularity.  Currently, commercial use of drones are limited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization and require the operator to have certified aircraft and pilots, as well as FAA operating approval.

The FAA is responsible for establishing a plan for “safe integration” of UAS by September 30, 2015. However, some reports have indicated that the integration plan deadline will be delayed due to privacy debates and various industry specific regulations. “The FAA is still developing regulations, policies, and standards that will cover a wide variety of UAS users, and expects to publish a proposed rule for small UAS (under 55 pounds) later this year.”

A few companies have been granted the FAA’s Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for UAS allowing for the limited use of commercial drones. In July 2014, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) joined the likes of ConocoPhillips and BP with limited permission to use drones.

Until regulations, best practice protocols, and authorizations are established for the commercial use of drones, standardize surveillance guidelines and best practices can continue to enable response personnel to assess spill size, movement, and potential impact locations.  These guidelines should be outlined in an oil spill response plan.

Below are guidelines that are routinely included in spill surveillance procedures:

  • Dispatch observers to crossings downstream or down gradient to determine the spill’s maximum reach potential.
  • During surveillance, travel beyond known impacted areas to check for additional oil spill sites.
  • Clearly describe the locations where oil is observed and the areas where no oil has been seen.
  • Educate personnel that clouds, shadows, sediment, floating organic matter, submerged sandbanks, or wind-induced patterns on the water may resemble an oil slick if viewed from a distance.
  • Use surface vessels to confirm the presence of any suspected oil slicks (if safe to do so); consider directing the vessels and photographing the vessels from the air, the latter to show their position and size relative to the slick. It may be difficult to adequately observe oil on the water surface from a boat, dock, or shoreline.
  • Spill surveillance is best accomplished through the use of helicopters or small planes; helicopters are preferred due to their superior visibility and maneuverability.
  • If fixed-wing planes are to be used, high-wing types provide better visibility than low-wing types.
  • All observations should be documented in writing and with photographs and/or videotapes; include the name and phone number of the person making the observations.
  • Describe the approximate dimensions of the oil slick based on available reference points (i.e. vessel, shoreline features, facilities); use the aircraft or vessel to traverse the length and width of the slick while timing each pass; calculate the approximate size and area of the slick by multiplying speed and time.
  • Record aerial observations on detailed maps, such as topographic maps.
  • In the event of reduced visibility, such as dense fog or cloud cover, boats may have to be used to patrol the area and document the location and movements of the spill; however, this method may not be safe if the spill involves a highly flammable product.
  • Surveillance is also required during spill response operations to gauge the effectiveness of response operations; to assist in locating skimmers; and assess the spill's size, movement, and impact.
For a free white paper on Conducting Effective Exercises, click here, or on the image below.
TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

Tags: Tactical Response Planning, Crisis Mapping, Emergency Management, Crisis Management, Oil Spill

4 Preparedness Templates Every Response Plan Administrator Must Have

Posted on Thu, May 08, 2014

Every company, whether an industrial enterprise or a large office building management group, must operate profitably and ensure the safety of its employees, yet comply with a complex array of federal, state and local regulations.  A lack of response planning and neglectful preparedness efforts can result in regulatory compliance fines, infrastructure damage, a negative public perception, and possibly a government-mandated shutdown of operations. While response plan requirements vary by industry, operation, and applicable regulations, utilizing these four preparedness elements can lay the foundation for a basic response planning program.

1. Emergency Response Plan: Every effort should be made to include processes and procedures to respond to the most likely emergency scenarios relevant to your site. Depending on industry, operations, and site hazards, companies may be required to submit specialized response plans to one or a variety of federal regulatory agencies.

Emergency responses plans need to serve a specific response purpose and meet explicit planning objectives. Below is a list of some basic planning objectives that may be relevant to your facility:

  1. Establish site-specific emergency response procedures for each potential threat, risk or emergency scenario. These may include, but are not limited to:
    1. Medical emergencies
    2. Hazardous releases
    3. Fire
    4. Severe weather
    5. Security issues
  2. Design an emergency response team framework and assign personnel to fill primary and alternate roles.
  3. Define notification and emergency response team activation procedures.
  4. Establish communication procedures and a primary and alternate Emergency Operations Center location.
  5. Identify and quantify necessary response equipment
  6. Ensure emergency response team personnel receive applicable and required training.
  7. Establish mitigation procedures and protective actions to safeguard the health and safety of on-site personnel and nearby communities.
  8. Identify and ensure availability of responders and supply chain resources.
  9. Maintain compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal requirements for environmental hazards, response plans, and training requirements.
  10. Integrate best practices and lessons learned from past training and exercises, actual emergencies, and incident reviews.

2. Fire Pre plan: The purpose of the pre fire emergency plans is to ensure a coordinated, expedient, and safe response in the event of a fire. The information listed in a fire pre-plan, such as floor plan(s) and details of on-site hazardous material(s), may also required by multiple agencies (OSHA, DOT, EPA, USCG) as part of an overall emergency response plan.  However, specific fire fighting information, such as construction details, hydrant, and utility valve locations may be useful to responders if highlighted in a stand-alone format and shared with responders prior to an emergency.

Having up-to-date information readily available, and available to knowledgeable responders has been proven to limit the duration of the emergency.  The faster responders can locate, assess, access, and mitigate the emergency, the sooner an incident can be contained...and the sooner facility operations can be restored to “business as usual”.

3. Business Continuity: Companies should establish methods to preserve critical business processes during adverse conditions to ensure operational viability and minimize the potential of lost revenues. Failure to develop an effective business continuity plan can lead to costly and devastating impacts, often affecting the long-term viability of a company.

The following business continuity planning cycle should be incorporated into every business process in order to reduce the duration of a disruption during an emergency.

  • PLAN: Identify the following -
    • Potential risks/threats
    • Trigger events
    • Impacted business processes/activities
    • Incident response structure
    • Warning and communication process
    • Recovery time objectives
  • ESTABLISH: Define the following -
    • Parameters of business continuity strategy
    • Communication and documentation processes
    • Training requirements
    • Detailed employee/ vendor contact information
    • Supplier dependencies and alternate resources
  • IMPLEMENT:
    • Initiate response checklists
    • Activate relocation strategies of critical processes
  • OPERATE: Manage critical processes and recovery time objectives.
  • MONITOR:
    • Equipment requirements
    • Primary and alternate facility details
    • Application and software requirements
  • MAINTAIN: Update key details and associated processes as deficiencies and inaccuracies are identified
  • CONTINUALLY IMPROVE: Incorporate lessons learned into the plans and training and periodically evaluate critical business processes to ensure that evolving businesses practices are captured.

4. Crisis Management Plan: When incidents occur, a crisis management plan (CMP) can minimize the escalation effect; such as a company’s short and long-term reputation, adverse financial performance, and overall impingement of company longevity. The associated level of preparedness may mean the difference between a crisis averted and an exhaustive corporate disaster.  

The following concepts should be utilized to generate an effective crisis management plan:

  • PREDICT: Identify all potential threats to “business as usual” operations. This can range from incidents requiring an emergency response to human resource controversies.
  • POSITION: Determine what your position or viewpoint will be on potential issues.
  • PREVENT: Take preventive measures to avert emergency situations and proactively deter negative perceptions. This includes generating effective response procedures and recovery processes for a variety of potential threats..
  • PLAN:  If mitigation efforts fail or an emergency situation arises, prepare a plan for responding to all internal and external aspects of the crisis. This may include identifying and communicating with media, and all audiences that may be affected by each crisis situation.
  • PERSEVERE: Follow your plan and communicate company positions and ongoing activities to counteract the incident. Proactive efforts, honesty, empathy, and preparedness will assist in maintaining company viability and reputation.
  • EVALUATE: If the CMP is enacted, review the results to determine if adjustments should be made.

 

Challenged with managing preparedness amongst your various facilites? Download TRP's best practices guide on response planning for large organizations with multi-facility operations.

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Tags: Fire Pre Plans, Business Continuity, Fire Preparedness, Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans, Crisis Management, Emergency Response Planning, Business Continuity Plan