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Basic Outline for a Crisis Management Plan

written by: ciel s cantoria • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 1/30/2011

Most business organizations have raised their awareness about the volatility of today’s environment and how a crisis can visit anyone, anywhere, anything, and anytime. This is why formulating a crisis management plan outline has become an integral part of project management.

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    Understanding the Development of a Plan for Contingency Measures

    800px-Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit view from the Laney Chouest 

    A crisis management plan outline can come in different structures and presentations, as some scopes of risk assessed may be broad and far reaching. In such cases, these types of contingency plans include different phases. They may comprise the establishment of a command center, to acts of mitigation, communication processes, and recovery strategies through the final phase of disengagement from all operations.

    On the other hand, there are crisis management plans that provide only for actions pertaining to communication responses and the chain of command. They are cases where the organization has previously decided that all actions should have prior legal consultations and professional assessments of the current situations, including media impact, before any steps or measures are taken.

    In such cases, these types of contingency plans contain outlines of the persons to be reached in cases of crisis. The main content is a list of emergency contacts. The important factor is the observations of protocol, which starts with the principal figure who will make the final decision. The next in line are his alternate, his legal counsel, his advisors, and the media spokesperson from whom the press statement will be released. The objective is to buy more time, so that courses of actions can be properly evaluated and conceptualized, before appropriate mitigation responses are applied.

    Image Credit: Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit view from the Laney Chouest courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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    Risk Management Assessments as the Bases for Determining the Plans of Action

    682px-Mina San José -Piñera con mensaje de mineros atrapados 

    The process of risk management is not a matter of coming up with exact solutions to contain a critical situation, but more on the evaluation of threats, their potential to create greater damage, and provision of plans to avert greater injury or costs.

    Hence, the crisis management plan outline will be developed in accordance with the risks perceived and the best plans of action to take. These are for purposes of restoring order, preventing further damage, and regaining control of the situation. Once the latter is achieved, the key individuals who have the expertise and skills, whether internal or external to the organization, will be approached to help in the recovery process.

    A related article entitled Success Stories in Crisis Management features three real-life examples of how crisis administration was effectively implemented by leaders who applied the core principles of risk management.

    Image Credit: Mina San José -Piñera con mensaje de mineros atrapados.jpg (San Jose Mines- President Pinera with the message of the trapped miners) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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    Knowing the Basic Outline for a Crisis Management Plan

    Regardless of the organizational structure, knowing the basic elements required for developing a crisis management plan outline is essential. A thorough comprehension regarding the significance of each element enables a project management team to come up with the most appropriate contingency plans that will rise to the challenges of emergency situations.

    I. The Purpose of the Crisis Management Plan

    This is a definitive statement as to what the organization considers as critical situations and a general overview of what the outline intends to achieve. A basic outline for a crisis management plan usually presents the crises or threats being contemplated immediately after the purpose is stated.

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    450px-Financial Crisis Newspaper 

    II. Critical Scenarios to Be Addressed by the Action Plans

    This is a list of the threats assessed and identified as requiring immediate attention, which may emanate from natural or man-made occurrences. They include:

    • Threats that question, ridicule, or put-down the integrity or reputation of the organization arising from irresponsible media publications or outcomes of lawsuits or legal disputes, which can influence the decisions of the company’s stakeholders.

    • They can also be critical situations that will result in damages and business disruptions arising from natural catastrophes, like hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, or tornadoes.
    • There are also the damages brought about by man-made scenarios, such as theft, white-collar fraud, accidents, fire, and violations of federal laws.

    All these risks have the potential to bring about permanent damages. In order to arrest their impact and potential for greater losses, a plan of action is required to mitigate their effects and to communicate to the public that corrective measures are being undertaken. Thereby, the effectiveness of these plans will allow the company to regain and maintain control over a serious situation.

    However, recognition of authority should be in order; hence, dissemination of information regarding the occurrence of any of these threats will follow the observance of protocol. The chain of communications shall be the next item considered in a basic crisis management plan outline.

    Image Credit: Financial Crisis Newspaper.jpeg -Wikimedia Commons

    Next Page: Find an example of a communications protocol outline in a crisis management plan..

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    Different organizations adopt different forms of crisis management, yet the basics remain the same. Read from this article about the essential elements of a basic crisis management plan outline and understand how a simple plan of contingency measures can save lives and avert substantial losses during these times of uncertainty.
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    Knowing the Basic Outline for a Crisis Management Plan (continuation)

    Presidential Emergency Operations Center 

    III. Emergency Contacts

    The list of emergency contacts will contain names and telephone numbers in accordance with the following communications protocol:

    1. The highest authority, who may be the president or CEO of the organization, since he will be deemed responsible for all the outcomes of the critical scenarios listed in the second section of the outline. This person will be provided with full information available and will give the orders to contact the phone numbers of the appropriate crisis management team, legal counsel, his advisers, and the media spokesperson.

    2. The pre-designated alternate to the highest authority, in case the latter cannot be reached. This may be the vice-president or a designated senior executive officer chosen by the CEO to act on his behalf.

    3. Legal counsel and other advisers who may be required in each team are next. They are considered, based on their expertise, to further evaluate the seriousness of the situation and provide additional input to the initial mitigation responses.

    4. The media spokesperson to which the official public statement will be released. This person shall be considered on the basis of his integrity for fair and unbiased practice of journalism in his industry.

    5. The pre-designated crisis management team members; each member is listed according to the critical scenarios to which he is assigned. These individuals are previously selected based on their expertise and track records in handling similar if not the same crisis situation that they are being tasked to handle.

    6. The government units indicated by federal or state government laws as requiring immediate notification.

    7. Emergency units, services, or suppliers, whether private or public, as they can provide additional input or assistance whether technological or traditional aside from those that are already at the scene of the critical scenario.

    Image Credits: Presidential Emergency Operations Center. Courtesy of Wikimedai Commons

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    800px-FEMA - 34516 - Members of the Missouri Emergency Response Service team in Missouri 

    IV. Plans of Action

    The listed plans of action will be categorized according to the critical scenarios identified in the second section of the outline. They contain general guidelines that have been previously established as sensible, feasible, expedient, legal, and moral courses of actions to take, without consideration of costs.

    They do not describe the step-by-step manner in which actions will be undertaken. They are overviews and objectives of the actions, the technology, equipment, and appropriate resources to be utilized, whether from individual(s) or corporate organization(s).

    These are only the basic elements of a corporate management plan outline. Additional considerations may be given to matters that pertain to the crisis team members’ training, plan monitoring, and updating of processes. However, these particular aspects may actually depend on the industry and the size of the organization, since they can also be integrated as part of the company’s training and operating policies.

    Image Credit: FEMA - 34516 - Members of the Missouri Emergency Response Service team in Missouri.jpg courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.