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This content is taken from the Coventry University's online course, Business Continuity Management and Crisis Management: An Introduction. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds Business continuity, like risk management, is often referred to as the “Cinderella of the organisation”. You never realise you need it until you need it. Therefore, getting the seniors engaged, helping them to understand the journey that you want to take the organisation on and why is crucial to your success. Organisations that do this well survive crises very quickly and don’t really feel the consequence of it. In taking the three stages of the incident, you?ve got the emergency response phase, the immediate flash bang. You need people there who are willing to work in stressful situations, who can analyse data quickly, develop a plan and, principally, communicate that plan to gain the confidence of others so that you succeed.

Skip to 0 minutes and 57 seconds The continuity phase then is looking at stabilising the organisation. You need people then that can start seeing a bigger picture. Who understand what does it take to get from A to B in the longer term, what can we do right now, what do we need to do right now and to expand on the communication that’s been developed during the crisis phase in order to achieve the longer-term stability. For me the most crucial stage is recovery. You’ve got to be able to start that in parallel because otherwise you’ll leave the organisation vulnerable if you don’t start to recover quickly and you won’t be able to quantify the size of the recovery unless you start to do it.

Skip to 1 minute and 33 seconds In determining your capability in your response, you must never forget people are at the heart of what we do they are going to be the ones that will go into the danger zones, they are going to be the ones that will continue your business, they are going to be the ones that will continue to sell your services long after the instance is gone. If you fail to take into consideration the human aspects and to look after your staff both before during and after, I’ll guarantee you you’ll fail.

The incident timeline

In this section, you’ll be introduced to some of the models and mechanisms that are commonly used in the management and response to crises.

We will begin by discussing the incident timeline.

The incident timeline establishes a working understanding of the dynamic phases of an incident. If an organisation is to have demonstrated capabilities in its business continuity management response and recovery planning, it must address and adhere to all stages of the timeline planning -although variability will depend on sector-specific conditions and constraints.

Incident phase

During the initial incident phase of the timeline the response must be rapidly up-scaled when the nature of the incident requires it. Immediate processes should be initiated such as accounting for people, dealing with casualties, containing, assessing and reporting known damage assessments as well as a decision to invoke the business continuity plan.

This is often equated to the ‘golden hour’ or a period of time where safeguarding life, property and well-being takes primacy.

Business continuity phase

Business continuity plans will need to deal with the disruptive impacts interrupting the smooth flow of essential business, by working with stakeholders, checking, monitoring and recovering critical activities, and resuming or recovering key work lost in progress by the incident(s).

Business recovery or resumption phase

The emphasis of business recovery or resumption plans is to restore the organisation to a level of normality. This is sometimes called the ‘new normal’ under significant traumatic incidents.

It is important to ensure all three dynamic phases are tested and planned for effectively as the reverberation of failure in one phase could compound problems in other phases. It is also important to note the invocation of these distinct phases may be covered by one overarching plan or may be separate plans that could be all invoked near simultaneously (depending upon the business need).

The common factor that runs throughout all stages is the ‘people’ organisations have a duty to safeguard and help recover, especially under traumatic losses.

Demonstrating effective capability across the timeline continuum can be evidenced via the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) management system as used in standards adherence. We’ll discuss this system in the following step.

Your task

Carry out your own web search for a ‘crisis incident timeline’.

You’ll see many examples of well-documented crises. Choose one and categorise the main points of the crisis into the phases of the incident timeline described above.

Share the categorised points for your crisis with your fellow learners in the comments section.

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This video is from the free online course:

Business Continuity Management and Crisis Management: An Introduction

Coventry University