Crisis planning & training

1. What are the ingredients of a good crisis management plan?
It should set out the policies and procedures to be followed in the event of a crisis; the key people who will form the crisis team (including reserves), their roles and responsibilities; simple checklists for activities such as threat assessment, fact gathering, stakeholder and issues identification and communications; and lists of useful contacts. It should be flexible enough to deal with any situation and easy to use.

2. Who should be on the crisis team?
Senior managers with the relevant expertise and authority to make decisions, eg the CEO or MD, heads of relevant business units and functions (eg Communications), plus a log-keeper.

3. How often should the plan be reviewed and tested?

Ideally at least once a year so the team is always prepared and ready to swing into action.

4. What does a crisis simulation exercise involve?
We develop a plausible scenario based on the sort of risks that could affect the company. While the crisis team deliberates the problem, new information comes to light and twists and turns are added in. We pose as stakeholders, eg customers, regulators, media. Simulations can be used to focus on specific risks, business units, products or locations. Afterwards we conduct a debrief to discuss what worked well and where there is scope for improvement.

5. Who should be trained?
Members of the crisis team, their reserves and other key personnel you may need to involve.