Once you have gone around the business continuity lifecycle you should have the tools to deal with a major incident, or crisis, that would otherwise cause your organisation irreparable damage if not dealt with effectively. However where do you house these plans, how do you activate them and make sure everything is recorded to protect you against litigation. This is where a software solution can be a great benefit. There are a few on the market place. Some are very simple and do not do everything that is required. Some do a lot with many whistles and bells. I would always advise you to look at all the options available as one may fit your particular requirements better than another. I am a big fan of Crisis Commander as it has the essentials without being too complicated. This also keeps it economically priced.
What are the essentials?
There are a few functions that good crisis management software should contain –
- The ability for all users to be able to access it from anywhere at any time including when your own systems are down
- Being able to bring your plans up and allow you to record as you work on them
- Storage of supporting documents which are always available
- Inbuilt communications allowing initial notification and follow up messaging
- Storage of contact lists both internal and external
- Inbuilt recording of everything that is done against time and date stamp. This is essential to protect against post incident litigation
- An ability to record the decisions of managers as they resolve the problem. Again for protection in litigation
- A mechanism that makes sure someone keeps it up to date
- An app that allows managers at the scene to interact with plans and decisions from their smart phones
Once you have these covered anything else is a bonus, but not if it is so much that the system is too complicated to operate. It should be intuitive and as simple as possible as it is not something people are using on a day to day basis. On the contrary it is something they will be picking up at a time of heightened emotions when there is not time to read the instruction manual so it must be easy to remember from the training that may have been delivered a year or more beforehand.
Other nice to have features
Let’s face it we always want more especially these days when we are used to upgrades with more and more features. However, as I have already stated you can overdo it at the expense of making it too complicated to use. These are a few extras you might consider –
- A way of holding a meeting part way though a crisis and recording decisions against an agenda. The emergency services will hold joint silver meetings at intervals to make sure they are all working to the common goal
- Access to a restricted contact list and early mobilisation plans that can be activated by an organisations security team late at night
- The ability for users to be able to have informal chats in a chat room environment where they can chew over options and exchange information informally
- Messaging templates already pre-loaded for speed and ease
- The ability to separate systems so that HQ and gold strategic planning can be carried out in another place while senior and middle managers, for various branches, can work on their problems in their own space
Others may argue for other aspects and we all have our favorites, which is why I began by saying it is advisable to shop around before committing to a system.
An example of a system that does all this but remains intuitive to use
Beyond doubt my favorite system is Crisis Commander. This is used by over 300 organisations in 40 odd different countries. It is simple enough to be intuitive but has all the features described above. It is able to send emails, SMS and voice messages to multiple numbers. It can hold telephone conferences without the need to get people to log in. It can receive communications back and all this is logged. It has voice bank and messaging web pages. It can filter contact lists so you drill down to the people you want to message. It also records everything that is done on a log that can be archived and downloaded at any time. But apart from all this it is one of the most affordable systems on the market at the current time.
For information on Crisis Commander or any other software systems please contact Continuity West and we will be more than happy to discuss your options.