A crisis management plan outlines how your business will react if a crisis occurs. The plan should identify who will take action and what their roles will be. The goal of a crisis management plan is to minimize damage and restore business operations as quickly as possible.
Your crisis management plan is a living document your team can refer to and update frequently. There are various ways to outline your plan, but a typical crisis plan looks like a checklist. When mishaps occur, your team can check off what items need to be done to respond to the crisis.
There’s no way to know what type of crisis may occur and when, but performing a risk analysis can give you a generalized idea of the potential threats your company may face.
6 steps to create a crisis management plan
To efficiently and effectively create a crisis management plan, break it up into smaller, more attainable steps. This can help you identify likely risks without getting overwhelmed by the potential crisis as a whole. To organize your plan, use a crisis management template with the following six steps:
Before you can take the first step in crisis management planning, choose a team of leaders to collaborate with during the crisis planning process. Your team should include the people who will take action during a crisis. Put this team together at the very beginning of crisis management planning so everyone knows the ins and outs of your crisis strategy.
To begin the planning process, have a brainstorming session to assess various risks your company may face. As mentioned above, you can kick off your brainstorming session by looking at risks associated with your job field. Use a risk register to identify and analyse the probability of risks occurring. A risk register can eliminate progress delays and prepare for potential setbacks. It can also help you visualize which risks are most likely to occur so you can plan a response for these risks.
Once you’ve identified the high-probability risks that could affect your company, determine the business impact of these risks with the help of your crisis leadership team. Each risk can cause different outcomes, so it’s important to analyse them separately. Potential business impacts may include customer attrition, damaged reputation, delayed sales, lost income, or regulatory fines.
Next, take each risk you’ve identified and determine what actions your team would need to take to respond to the threat if it does happen. For example, if you are having cleaning company and you have to maintain your cleaning machine, you need someone to take care of it. In case of failure, your client will not be satisfied and you can lose him.
Once you’ve verbally made sense of the threats your company may face, the business impact, and how to respond, solidify your plan. A crisis management plan is more than a written or verbal strategy. It should include key items such as an activation protocol and emergency contacts, which we’ll discuss in more detail below. You’ll also need to collaborate with key stakeholders so that everyone understands what to do and when.
Once your crisis plan is complete, review the final product to ensure there are no gaps. Revisit your crisis management plan and update it at least once a year because potential risks can change with time.
As you create your crisis management plan, use this checklist to ensure you haven’t overlooked the important details.
A risk analysis will physically outline the potential risks your company may face and put them in order of probability. Including risk management in your emergency response plan is helpful because new leaders can refer to it if management shifts.
The activation protocol determines when action should be taken if a crisis occurs. For example, you may decide that your team members should hold off on taking action until a crisis reaches a certain level of business impact. Once that business impact occurs, it triggers the crisis management team to respond.
Include the main emergency contact information to speed up the response process for crises that require external help. Your emergency contact list may include local law enforcement, hospital first responders, and the fire department as well as plumbing services, electricians, poison control, and any other services related to the risks you’ve identified in your analysis.
While an activation protocol defines exactly when your crisis response team should respond to a crisis, the response procedures outline the action plans for each person when triggered. Use a roles and responsibilities matrix, also known as a RACI chart, to clarify the decision-making positions in your crisis response plan. For example, a RACI chart can help the response team determine who’s accountable for communicating with the public and who’s responsible for talking to employees.
When a crisis occurs, your internal operations may not be the only things impacted. Once a crisis is widespread enough, you’ll need to explain the situation to key external stakeholders and the public. Your external crisis communication strategy should include details about who will deliver the information as well as who’s in charge of handling feedback.
A post-crisis assessment reminds your team to follow up and assess what went well and what didn’t. You can then update your crisis plan with lessons learned to improve your response procedures and reduce business impact.