Are you prepared for a crisis

Every organisation is vulnerable to crises, with the potential to impact on personnel, infrastructure, assets, finances or reputation. Thankfully, as business owners, crisis situations for the most part are few and far between especially for those that are prepared.

In order to be prepared, organisations need to have developed clear incident management protocols and a crisis management strategy. The business environment (internal and external) presents challenges, all with the potential for disaster; it is how an organisation prepares to face these challenges that define its ability to survive.

Preparation is everything
“Preparedness is an essential element of incident and crisis management, but it seems that a new corporate giant is caught without a clue on an almost daily basis”. (Mission Mode April 29, 2014)

The next crisis that could threaten an organisation is already taking shape, putting reputation and business continuity at risk. Likely triggers include, but are not limited to; malevolence; financial crime; technological and industrial disruption; natural or man-made physical catastrophes; financial disruptions. Organisations need to effectively identify these triggers and manage them whilst maintaining a strong business position and the ability to recover with minimal damage.

Irrespective of the nature of the crisis, the ability to effectively manage an incident, and prevent a crises or recover with minimal loss indicates how prepared, and ultimately how in control the organisation is both internally to your staff and external stakeholders.

Let’s take Manchester United for example, one of the biggest sports clubs in the world which recently experienced what was perceived at the time to be a serious security threat. At a live football match a bomb scare affected thousands of supporters and staff that were already in the stadium ready for the match. Old Trafford safety and security teams, guided by stadium safety management guidelines worked to ensure the calm and safe evacuation of approximately 75,000 spectators. Such quick reaction could be seen as a result of lessons learned from incidents such as the 1985 Bradford fire and 1989 Hillsborough tragedy as it was clear that a set disaster plan was in place.

Thankfully this particular threat was a false alarm, but the well prepared stadium staff were able to evacuate the spectators to apparent safety with minimal distress or alarm. Despite such an efficient performance, the incident is estimated to have cost the club around £3 million in reimbursed tickets and travel costs; some may argue a small price to pay when compared to the potential for loss of life, multiple law suits and reputational damageemphasising the importance of crisis preparedness.

Plan, plan, plan
Whilst robust planning and development of contingencies for the management of specific incidents is critical to an organisations survival, failure to properly manage post incident events could also prove more detrimental to the organisation, moresothan the incident itself. It is therefore vital that organisations seriously consider the development of post crises protocols, especially with regards business continuity, communication management, welfare and support protocols. Despite this, many organisations still fail to prepare effectively.