Today, all organizations, big and small, face threats from the world when it comes to dangerous and unforeseen events that can impact business normalcy. Whether that’s a cyberattack, natural disaster, terrorist attack, or more, these events can disrupt business and threaten employee safety. Critical event management plays a key role in many organizations around the world, not just recovering from these situations, but also in ensuring that companies can plan ahead for future events, such that they’re not caught off-guard when something happens in the future.
This is why emergency planning for critical event management is important since it creates a solid plan for employees and stakeholders to rely on when a critical event has occurred. Here are some steps your critical event management plan should have.
#1. Identify and Label Threats
The first order of business when it comes to emergency planning for CEM should be to identify what threats your organization is likely to face. If you have offices in warm and wet climates, hurricanes are a possible threat. If your employees work in a politically unstable area, then there are dangers of riots or terrorist attacks. If you work in a tech sector where you handle sensitive data over the internet, then cyber-attacks are a possible threat as well.
Your priorities are to identify these threats and assign priorities to them on how likely they are to occur.
No two critical events are the same, and traditional critical management demands that you first figure out what your organization stands to face, and what you could be facing in the future. Preparing a critical event management plan and creating processes for your employees to follow can reduce risk and impact during these critical events.
#2. Get Threat Intelligence and Information
In this context, threat intelligence is just understanding where your risks stand to come from, and when you can expect them. For natural events, you can regularly check weather reports and public safety alerts. For cyber-attacks, you can prepare by understanding the latest attacks that malicious parties are using, and how your systems are vulnerable to them. This kind of information can help you to prepare during emergency planning for CEMs. This will help you create a faster response that’s also more tuned to what you’re facing and how to best mitigate it.
#3. Create an Action Plan
During emergency planning for CEMs, this step is where you will actually be creating a plan for employees and stakeholders to follow to respond with an action plan.
Your first order of business will be to identify the facility which has been affected and notify the person in charge there.
After verification, the manager there will have to inform stakeholders and what steps are going to be taken to resolve it. Once approval is received for this, the manager can then take charge of the event and start working on steps for mitigation.
The manager can then start working on sending communications to the affected staff so that they’re aware and ready to respond either by volunteering or keeping themselves safe. By having more people on hand, the manager can start diversifying their response towards actual mitigation steps found in traditional critical event management and creating an incident response team.
Once the incident response team has formed, they can start working on protecting company assets, notifying local authorities, and ensuring the safety of any affected staff. During this time, the manager will be communicating regularly with other stakeholders on the status of the incident response, and what time resolution can be achieved.
After the situation is finally resolved, the manager will send a final communique to notify all staff and stakeholders that the event has been handled and business can resume normally. Ideally, after this, the manager will prepare a report on the efficacy of the critical event management plan so that senior management can review it and polish it for any future incidents.
#4. Create A Secure Communication Channel
A critical event management plan means nothing if you cannot communicate it quickly and securely to stakeholders. Having a secure channel can help not just with communication, but also in preventing any escalations and aftershocks due to poor planning, or if the event was of malicious origin, preventing plan failure by leaks of mitigation steps.
#5. Account for All Personnel
In the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack, you need a system that can tell you where all of your staff are, and whether they’re safe or not. This is crucial during emergency planning for CEMs, since ensuring employee safety is the top concern during these situations. You can automate this step by implementing a system where employees can either check into or be automatically tagged based on their current status. This not only ensures employee safety but also saves valuable time during a critical event.
#6. Communicate with External Agencies
Whether it’s government agencies, first responders, vendors, or partners, be prepared to communicate your status with these organizations, since they will be the ones to help with the response. In the case of vendors and partners, they can also put their collaborations with you on hold to ensure that you’re able to get back on your feet as soon as possible before they resume business operations.
#7. Get Real-time Info
One of the biggest assets in traditional critical event management is acquiring reliable and up-to-date information. Collecting information on the critical event from external or internal sources and using that to dynamically adjust how your plan tackles the critical event.
In the case of weather, your supply chain can be rerouted instead of halted to ensure that business continues as normal. In the case of a political riot, employees could be shuttled to a different state or province where the situation isn’t as bad, and employees can be protected.
#8. Test Your Plan
Use training drills and simulations to plan out for these events. Although plans are great, they’re still only as effective on paper. Proper testing methodologies can ensure that people are versed with the plan, what their roles are, and how the plan falls short. This can help with adjustments to the plan which can be more efficient.
Emergency planning for CEMs is vital to ensuring that disasters and attacks don’t cripple your organizational operations. With a good plan, you can ensure employee safety, protect company assets, and reduce any loss of life or property. A good critical event management plan depends on the collaboration and communication of all stakeholders. In addition, it also requires constant training and battle-testing to ensure that your plans are proven in real life, not just on paper.