It won’t be an overstatement to say that 2020 was a year of disasters. A pandemic hit the world, and countries shut down operations. COVID-19 was not only an economic crisis, but it was also a humanitarian one.
The world was wholly incapable of managing such a crisis. Companies faced turmoil while world leaders flip-flopped on the policy. Governments are responsible for putting up an effective and clear plan in place in such an ambivalent situation. But how do they do that? How can companies and leaders anticipate such novel problems and prepare for them?
The answer is simple, through contingency planning and crisis preparation.
What are contingency planning and crisis preparation?
It is a well-established principle that “everything that can go wrong will go wrong.” So, it pays always to have a plan “B” in place. (In fact, we recommend having plans B, C, and D in place to be safe.)
This plan “B” is the contingency strategy. It is put in place when the primary plan fails. These plans are used by those who want to avoid risks associated with a job. They may also be helpful in emergencies. Crises preparation works in tandem with contingency planning from standard operating procedures during an unknown emergency.
The contingency plan may be reactive or proactive. People must plan for disastrous situations, as well as unexpected luck.
Why develop put a contingency plan and crisis preparation protocol in place?
A contingency plan and crisis management protocol can avoid wasting precious time during a disaster. In a rapidly digitalizing world, companies and governments are highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Therefore, it is vital to have a contingency plan on cyber-attacks developed by someone with online masters in homeland security. Furthermore, it can limit the organizational, social, ethical, and financial effects of disasters. However, most plans are myopic, as they merely focus on policy implementation.
Firms and the public sector use contingency plans to keep tasks on track.
How to prepare a contingency plan?
- Prioritize and catalog resources: In an emergency, some resources are more valuable than others. Since each incident is different, it is vital to identify the resources accordingly. List them in descending order of priority.
- Consider the key risks: Do an analysis of the situation and identify the key risks. Some of these risks might require immediate assistance, so plan accordingly.
- Draft a Contingency Plan: Now is the time to draft a contingency plan. Keep in mind that the goal of the contingency plan is to resume operations as fast as possible.
- Share the plan: Now that you have a plan in place, share it with others to make sure they know what to do in an emergency. Without proper communication, a preparation protocol is useless.
- Improve the plan: There is always room for improvement, so always keep on updating the protocol.
Other tips for contingency planning:
- Do not directly jump to updates or next steps. Take the time to communicate talk about the current situation before explaining what to do next.
- Think about how you will start the contingency plan. Who in your chain of command decides to press the go button on every structural level? Think of the micro and macro level. Put in place a strict hierarchy so that everyone knows whom to consult for what.
- It is better to make a detailed plan about how to handle things as they evolve. So, what will be done in the first hour? Think about what will happen if something changes. Nothing sows doubt in leadership more than vague generalities.
- Identify dates and deadlines so that you do not miss them.
- Always try to establish the minimum needs so that your organization can operate. Now is the time to do what you must to run the show without worrying about the cleanup situation.
- Keep It Simple Stupid. The more complicated your method, the more the chance of things going off the rails. You will not be winning the Pulitzer Prize with your plan, so make it easy to understand.
- Your plan is useless if people do not follow it like second nature. And how can you make it second nature? Just train them. So, provide initial training and update people when you make any changes.
- Think about how you will clear up the mess and who decides that things are back to normal.
- Review your plan to resolve any loopholes and mistakes after every event that requires the contingency plan. This way, you can easily find out what needs an update and what needs to be approved. Most experts suggest annual reviews for this purpose.
- Test your plan and audit it.
- Update it every time you make any changes. A contingency policy is not set in stone since it needs constant revision to reflect changes to the emerging situation. New actors can also emerge, so your plan must be able to handle them.
- Always try to innovate and look for alternative routes to your plan.
Humans are single-minded by nature. However, there is no room for this attitude in today’s world. Focusing too much on plan “A” instead of applying alternative strategies can sabotage your success.
Some companies have contingency planning at the bottom of their list. Since the events which would trigger the plan seem remote, contingency planning is considered a luxury.
However, such an oversight can lead to high losses. If anything, the pandemic taught us how things change in one instant. Therefore, taking contingency planning is key to the success of businesses.