Blog provided by RockDove Solutions

Imagine that you’re sound asleep at home at 1 a.m. when a text awakens you. A threat has reared its ugly head and is on the verge of becoming a full-blown crisis. Maybe your CEO has had an unfortunate slip of the tongue on social media. Maybe a product malfunction has resulted in injuries or a loss of life. Or perhaps a hurricane is roaring toward one of your manufacturing plants, placing your workers and assets in harm’s way.

At that instant, you jump into action, but do you know what your next step should be in response to this particular threat? Do all involved teams know what to do and when? Are they prepared and equipped to coordinate and communicate with each other as needed?

You know that every second counts, but how much time will you expend talking to teams as you put together a plan on the fly? Given your current tools, how many minutes will be lost notifying each team and getting all pertinent assignments and data into their hands?

As the situation unfolds over the following hours and days, how will you know things are getting done properly? How will you keep your team informed of your progress? How many hours will you burn keeping track of all of this data and communication and distributing it to your teams?

These questions keep more than a few crisis management professionals up at night, because more than a few organizations struggle to prepare sufficiently to coordinate a proper response to all likely scenarios. One Deloitte survey discovered that only 49% of enterprise organizations take the time to define “a specific set of actions for crisis scenarios.”

Fortunately, organizations need not be caught flat-footed by that dreaded 1 a.m. call. A few key considerations can empower you and your organization to more swiftly coordinate and mount an effective response.

1. Establish scenario-based protocols

This seems like a no-brainer, but as the stat above suggests, it is somehow still neglected. The same survey found that an unbelievable 64% of organizations do not regard crises-specific planning as a key element of response planning. To be clear, your job as a crisis management leader’s job is not done until you have identified your organization’s most likely crisis scenarios—but this is just the start.

The same survey revealed that only 38% viewed clearly defined rules of escalation (Ex: “If this happens, then do this…”) as key elements of response planning. As a forward-thinking crisis manager, you must buck this trend by taking the time and working cross-functionally to map out the rules of escalation for each crisis scenario.

This is painstaking work, but work that is absolutely essential if your organization is to be truly ready to respond swiftly and surely to a crisis.

2. Make protocols easily accessible

Just a few years ago, it seems, physical binders—packed with dozens of sheets of paper and usually kept in an office filing cabinet—were the method du jour for publishing and maintaining crisis plans. One doesn’t have to think too hard to see how this method could rob crisis management leaders and their teams of precious hours in the event of an emergency.

Visibility and accessibility are powerful principles for improving coordination and speed. Once your crisis scenario plans and protocols are built, make them accessible to all involved teams. Cloud-based tools can make this possible any hour of the day and make it easy to ensure that your organization is using only the most recent version.

3. Route and assign issues to the right team

As your crisis response begins, how do you let teams know who is doing what and when, based on your protocols? Organizing kickoff and status calls? Manually sending out emails and texts? Sharing spreadsheets? These are common ways to route and assign issues to the appropriate teams, but they all share two key flaws. First, they burn up critical minutes in the first hours of a crisis. Second, as the response progresses, continued maintenance becomes a major time suck that pulls you away from more valuable, strategic conversations.

On the other hand, tools that automate the routing of issues and tasks to the appropriate parties make your crisis response kickoff nearly instantaneous. As soon as the crisis manager initiates the plan, the tool sends notifications to the pre-assigned owners of the plans initial tasks. As each issue is resolved, the tool then routes the next task in the sequence to its pre-assigned owner and sends a notification. No time is lost checking or responding. More time goes to execution and strategizing next steps.

4. Track progress of issues and issue activity

It’s not hard to imagine how the aforementioned automation would benefit a crisis manager in tracking the activity, progress, and/or roadblocks on each issue. Assuming teams updated the tool regularly, activity and status would be visible in real-time, not just to the manager, but to all involved parties. Communication would become less about “Has this been done?” and more about high-value questions like “How can we act to remove these roadblocks and get this issue resolved?”

As an added bonus, such a tool would capture a play-by-play picture of the crisis response for crisis management teams to analyze and learn from after the fact to further optimize plans and protocols.

Learn how RockDove Solutions’ In Case of Crisis 365 risk management platform automates crisis coordination and response plans by visiting