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Volume 27, Issue 3

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DR and Crisis Management

Recently, DR/BCP professionals have sent me inquiries about how to handle crisis management or crisis communication, especially during a DR event.  DR/BCP professionals may be highly involved in managing a data or system recovery and unable to devote attention to managing the entire crisis that may result. They need crisis management professionals on their team.  It wouldn't be practical to have a crisis management professional on each DR/BCP team, but it w0uld be an excellent time to partner with the corporate or organizational crisis management/crisis communication professional.

I've done Incident Management Team training for private sector organizations, sometimes at several of their critical facilities across the nation.  The Incident Command System (ICS) model provides a framework for integrating crisis management, crisis communication and DR/BCP operations when disaster strikes.  Most private sector organizations have found ICS to be extremely helpful and affordable if it has be tailored to their business and presented by consultants who understand both the private and public sector uses of ICS.  Private sector CEOs also see the benefit in being compatible with public emergency response organizations.

Crisis management is NOT DR/BCP.  It is a necessary subset.  In my experience, ICS can be taught from the bottom up, rather than the traditional top-down, command and control orientation.  I teach private sector Incident Management Teams that the key figure in response is the Operations Section Chief (the DR/BCP CIO or designee in the case of an IT emergency). This is the person and section that can "fix the problem," as Ed Devlin would say. All other ICS positions are there to support the Operations Section. I like the Incident Commander (ICS term) to be thought of as an "Incident Manager."

How are you prepared to manage a crisis and to communicate critical information to stakeholders? Do you have crisis management expertise to support you DR/BCP resiliency team?