At many companies, emergencies are made worse because the crisis management team does not have ready access to vital, up-to-date data. In today’s post, we’ll talk about what information the crisis team might need—and how you can make sure they have it.
One of the essential questions you must consider when devising your Crisis Management and IT/Disaster Recovery strategies is: Will the crisis management team have quick access to the critical information they need to carry out their role?
Information is critical to our businesses. We cannot make good decisions without it.
LIKE WEARING A BLINDFOLD
Trying to manage a crisis without quality, accurate information would be like a firefighter’s trying to put out a fire with a blindfold on.
Missing information causes delays while the team tracks down the absent data, or conducts redundant analyses to figure it out. Incorrect information can lead to wasted effort, sow confusion, and introduce errors.
MAKING A BAD SITUATION WORSE
Both situations hamper the crisis management team—and increase the negative impact of the emergency on the organization.
Your crisis team shouldn’t have to perform a scavenger hunt to get the information it needs.
Take a few minutes to determine whether your crisis team would truly have timely access to up-to-date information if and when a crisis strikes.
WHAT THE CRISIS TEAM NEEDS TO KNOW
What kind of information does your crisis team need to be able to get its hands on? Basically, they need the following:
- Information on the severity of the impact to the organization’s business processes
- Information on how long the crisis is likely to last
- Internal contact lists
- External contact lists
- Documentation listing the members of the crisis and recovery teams and stating what their responsibilities are
- Listing of what is critical and what is not and when it needs to be restored
- Recovery plans and checklists
- Business processing requirements
- Manual processing procedures
- Information about business risks
Most likely, you have probably already documented much of the above. The important thing is to make sure the information is up-to-date and easily accessible.
TIPS TO HELP YOU RAISE YOUR CRISIS-DATA GAME
Below are some tips and considerations to help you make sure your crisis will have the right information in the right place at the right time:
- Make sure your contact lists are up to date and accessible.
- If your crisis team depends on cloud-based information, make sure your Internet access is completely redundant with no single points of failure.
- If the data is stored on Exchange or some other system, make sure there are no single points of failure for those systems. Familiarize yourself with the recovery timeframe for them. Determine whether you can you access them remotely.
- If your data is stored on paper or in soft copies on storage devices, you will need to make an effort to keep it up to date. Such resources are often out of date the day after they are printed or stored.
- Strive to keep your contact lists up to date. This isn’t easy.
- Determine an appropriate update schedule to keep your contact lists up to date. Annual or bi-annual updates are not enough. Identify the single points of failure of these lists.
- Make sure that your contact lists identify the secondary and tertiary team members. No one works 24×7. Your secondary and tertiary team members are also critical.
- Document the chief risks to the business. This is frequently overlooked, but the crisis management team depends on this information. They shouldn’t have to figure it out during the heat of the crisis.
- Document the business processing requirements. Identify the impacts to them as well as what processes are critical, their dependencies, and how to manually run those processes, if necessary. (Most organizations assume they can just start processing once the systems become available again. It is commonly assumed such systems are self-healing. We have found this is usually not the case.)
- Sometimes the team will have to make decisions based on incomplete information. The team will have to determine if it is reasonable to expect the needed information can be obtained in a timely manner. If it cannot, the team must make the best decision based on the information available.
- Generally speaking, the more information you prepare as part of the crisis management documentation, the better the decisions that will emerge during a crisis situation.
GIVING THE CRISIS TEAM WHAT IT NEEDS
Scavenger hunts can be fun, but not when you are a member of a crisis team in need of key information to manage your organization’s response to an emergency. Do your team—and your organization—a favor: make sure the team has quick, reliable access to the information they need to perform their role. When the team has such access, it can greatly limit the negative impacts of an event.
WHERE IS YOUR CRITICAL RECOVERY INFORMATION STORED?
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Securely upload and view critical facility data, information and continuity plans during an incident.
For more on critical recovery information and other hot topics in business continuity and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent blog posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting:
- “This Is an Emergency”: Why You Should Consider an Emergency Notification System
- 4 Rules for Effective Communication in a Crisis
- When the Dust Settles: How to Learn from a Business Disruption
- 4 Metrics to Help Your Organization Improve at Crisis Management
- 7 Reasons Your Recovery Plan Might Need an Update
- IT Change Management: Don’t Leave Your Recovery Environment Behind
- In Time of Crisis: What to Do in the First 24 Hours