Critical Assistance: How a Consultant Can Strengthen Your Crisis Management Program

These days most organizations hire third-party providers to perform peripheral tasks such as payroll processing and customer service. Third-party vendors can also be hired to help develop a crisis management program, a step that can eliminate many headaches and bring significant benefits. 

The Shift Towards Outsourcing

One of the biggest shifts in business in recent years is that toward outsourcing activities that are outside the company’s core competencies. This allows the company to focus on what it does best while handing support tasks off to firms that specialize in those areas. Typically, this results in such services being performed better, cheaper, or both. 

Among the services commonly outsourced are payroll processing, human resources, IT, and marketing.  

Did you know that developing a crisis management program can also be outsourced?

Reasons for Outsourcing CM Program Development

The rationale for outsourcing CM program development is the same as that for contracting out for other services. CM program development is not part of the company’s core competencies.  

And there are people working for other organizations who have spent their careers working in crisis management program development, and who are available for hire to take on the job. 

Previous posts on this blog have looked at the ways hiring a business continuity management (BCM) consultant can benefit an organization. (See “Helping Hands: What BC Consultants Do For You.”) 

Today’s post will focus specifically on the benefits of hiring a BCM firm with CM expertise to help your organization in developing a crisis management program. 

Every responsible organization knows it needs a CM plan and program. Relatively few companies have people on staff who know what such a program requires and have experience in building one.  

Fortunately, experienced outside advisers are available to assist. MHA Consulting is one such company, and there are many others. 

The Consultant Builds the Program, Staff Manage the Crisis

One matter should be clarified at the outset. A crisis management program consultant does not take primary responsibility for managing a crisis at a company. (In other words, this is not CMaaS, Crisis Management as a Service). Rather, the consultant helps the company with crisis program development, plan writing, and crisis team selection and training. They may be able to act as the CM lead or facilitator if desired, to allow the CM team to focus on analysis and decision making.  

This will prepare the company to ride out the storm, if and when trouble strikes.  

That said, most CM consultants who have a relationship with a company would gladly lend what help they could during a crisis as part of an advisory role, even though they are unlikely to be on the scene. 

Benefits of Hiring a CM Program Consultant

Here are some ways a CM consultant can help a company develop or improve its crisis management program:  

  • Assess the current state of the CM program. Doing this properly requires more than a template downloaded off the Internet. It takes knowledge and expertise to identify the gaps, strengths and needs.  
  • Spearhead the development of the CM plan. The consultant writes the written CM plan, including role-specific checklists for the various team members that are the heart of any CM plan. 
  • Develop and facilitate mock crisis exercises. Having a pair of outside eyes involved provides valuable perspective. Plus, the consultant can hold people’s feet to the fire, keeping the exercise real and playing the “bad guy” in facilitating discussion.  
  • Manage the overall program. When the consultant sweats the details, the employees can go about their business and the company is still being prepared.  
  • Get CM program development done. Most people agree the organization needs to be prepared, but CM still has a way of getting pushed down the priority list—because staff needs to work on business-driven projects. Having a third-party on the job ensures the program will get built and that the company will gain the needed protection.  

These are just some of the ways bringing in a skilled and experienced CM consultant can benefit the crisis management program and make the organization more resilient. 

Preparing the Company to Respond Effectively

Bringing in a third-party vendor to assist with crisis management program development makes a lot of sense for many organizations.  

Taking this step—with the right consultant—allows the company to focus on what it does best while handing off the chores related to CM program development and management to someone with expertise in that area.  

A good CM program consultant can help a company assess its program, write a plan, staff and train a CM team, and conduct mock exercises. This will ensure the company can respond effectively if and when it is ever hit by a crisis in actuality. 

Further Reading

For more information on developing a crisis management program and other hot topics in BC and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from MHA Consulting and BCMMETRICS: 

About
Richard Long
Richard Long is one of MHA’s practice team leaders for Technology and Disaster Recovery related engagements. He has been responsible for the successful execution of MHA business continuity and disaster recovery engagements in industries such as Energy & Utilities, Government Services, Healthcare, Insurance, Risk Management, Travel & Entertainment, Consumer Products, and Education. Prior to joining MHA, Richard held Senior IT Director positions at PetSmart (NASDAQ: PETM) and Avnet, Inc. (NYSE: AVT) and has been a senior leader across all disciplines of IT. He has successfully led international and domestic disaster recovery, technology assessment, crisis management and risk mitigation engagements.
crisis responseit/disaster recovery