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Event Management Planning and Crisis Management


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Event Management Planning and Crisis Management

Managing large-scale events in times of crisis

Managing Events
Event Planning Process
Technology Considerations

Event Management Links 
Sample Emergency Management Plans
Event Management Books

Managing Crises Before They Happen: What Every Executive and Manager Needs to Know About Crisis Management

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Times of crisis are often defining moments for an organization.  It is an opportunity - an opportunity to fail or succeed in managing events as they unfold.  Sound event management and crisis management programs can significantly mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of any large-scale event.


What do earthquakes and the Olympics have in common?  They are both examples of potential disasters.  If an earthquake occurs in a populated area it will be a disastrous event for residents and businesses alike.  The Olympics is an event that has a similar potential to become a disaster due to the large concentration of people and the increased risk of terrorist threats and other disasters.  Both of these are events, one a seismic event while the other is a sporting event.  Here we will discuss the issue of managing these events in terms of the key emergency management concepts of:

  • Mitigation

  • Preparedness

  • Response

  • Recovery

During a disaster or crisis you need a sound event management program that facilitates rapid communication, impact assessment, and rumor control.  Your investment in planning will help you manage even the largest, long-term incident.

Managing Events

The potential for significant and enduring  disruptions makes it extremely important to have appropriate contingency and emergency operations plans in place and tested.  Managing an event will require a robust communications and decision-making system that will be able to quickly identify and respond to problems.

An information management system will need to provide a way to manage and document emergency management activities and contingency plan implementation.

The Event Planning Process

The best protection against large-scale events is to have good plans in place and to be ready to use them. The event planning process includes a number of phases as described below. Successful event planning will require strong leadership and a commitment to preparedness. Everyone involved should be aware that this work will help your organization survive the event and minimize losses.

Event Planning Phases

Conduct triage to identify systems, institutions, and industries that are most critical and at risk.

Develop planning scenarios based on threat assessments.

Develop contingency plans based on scenarios for all important systems processes and dependencies.

Develop a strategy for communicating with employees, stakeholders, and the public in a way that makes them a part of the solution.

Update threat assessments to determine the likelihood and impact of disruptions.

Organize the Event Planning Team

In the initial planning phase, you should organize and staff an event planning team.  Event planning requires broad-based participation and support. You should include risk management and information technology professionals in addition to emergency management and subject matter experts. People throughout the organization and community will need to understand the plans, so include as broad a cross-section as possible. Because these plans may involve the shutdown of some processes, the affected personnel must be involved in the planning process. Consider selecting individuals who are known for having a "big picture" or "systems" way of thinking as well as those with hands-on operational expertise.

Threat Identification, Risk Assessment, and Planning Prioritization

During this phase you will need to identify and assess threats and prioritize your event planning efforts. You should inventory all of the risks in the operating environment and the community. Look at all of the areas in the business environment that may impact your operation. Next, you should assess the risk of failures as well as the impact form external disruption in such areas as power, telecommunications, and suppliers.  Lacking good data on threat assessments, you will need to plan for the worse case scenarios.

To prioritize planning efforts you must first look at the likelihood of these threats as well as the expected duration of the possible failures. Top priority should be given to the most critical systems. To conduct this prioritization exercise you will need to develop a risk rating methodology.

Once you have prioritized areas needing contingency plans and developed disaster scenarios it is time to define the scope of the project. It is important that you define a controllable scope before beginning the next phase of your contingency planning effort. The output of your threat assessment and prioritization will be useful in defining the scope of your overall planning effort.  You will now need to use this information to draw a box around your contingency efforts––what risks will you address and which will your ignore? These will be critical decisions and will require careful consideration.

Review and Develop Plans

This phase is where you will review existing plans and develop new plans defined in the project scope. You will also determine the events that will trigger a plan's implementation. Additionally, testing and training are included in this phase. Developing plans will involve an exercise to identify and evaluate various contingency alternatives based on scenarios developed in the preceding phase. As with the failure scenario effort, building the list of alternatives will require a careful analysis to determine whether the alternatives are likely to be available. In developing plans you should be sure to include individual preparedness and community-wide readiness as aspects of your plan. Work with civic and community groups in developing plans that will work at the neighborhood level.

See more information on contingency planning.

Simulation Training of Plan Execution

Once the plans are finalized, training on the contingency plan is necessary to ensure its smooth and successful implementation. The documentation in the plan should be detailed enough to provide the step-by-step guidance needed. You can not expect staff to pick up a plan during a crisis and read about what they should do. All parties involved will need to be trained on all of the new procedures or practices envisioned under the plan as well as on what their assigned roles will be. The best training practices include walk-throughs, tabletop exercises, and functional simulations. For the most critical planning areas, full dress rehearsals involving a combination of tabletop and functional exercises will be required to fully test your plans and your ability to execute and monitor them. This testing process will also uncover any flawed assumptions in the plan.

Responding to the Event

Your efforts at developing good plans will be rewarded in the event of a disastrous event. However, your work is not done when the plans are done. Being prepared to respond to the event will require a strong system for threat monitoring, emergency notification, and command and control systems.

The contingency plan should be implemented when a trigger event occurs. Contingency plans may be put into effect anytime to prevent a service disruption. The objective of the plan execution step is to manage the operation of the contingency plan as smoothly and efficiently as possible. It is important to have a strong command and control system in place to ensure that the plan activation and monitoring is carried out in an organized and controlled fashion.

The training and testing that should have previously occurred will go a long way to ensure the successful implementation of your plan. Strong communication and management, however, will also be key. You must make sure that everyone in the organization knows that the contingency plan is being put into effect. Notification of key personnel and emergency response teams should be followed by communication to all staff and the public. You should let anyone affected by the plan know that the plan has been activated and the expected duration of the contingency mode.

Managing Plan Execution

Strong oversight will be needed during event operations. Command centers should be open to ensure that oversight and rapid decision making can occur. Training and rehearsing the management team in emergency operations concepts and drilling this team are good ideas as well. It is critically important to be able to manage information related to these events and the plans and resources being deployed in response. Here again, good information management technology is essential. 

Responding to the Event

During the incident response phase, the real-time tracking of incidents and response resources is critical. It is conceivable that emergency managers and response organizations will be overwhelmed with calls for service. Resource may be in short supply while multiple requests for service pile up. Again, the potential for many simultaneous incidents requires a robust data management system. An operations log capability in needed to fulfill the requirement of documenting, tracking, and managing the response to an infinite number of concurrent incidents.

Recovery and Operations Resumption

Your contingency plan will need to include business resumption and recovery planning. It is important to have a plan for "standing down" for the contingency mode and for the resumption of normal operation after the contingency has ended.  You may choose to organize separate business resumption teams to develop these specific plans. Specific plans should be developed documenting the recovery process.

Disengaging from Contingent Operations

As you did with the preparations for implementation of the plan, you will need to determine trigger events for ending the contingency mode of operations. What events will be required to determine that it is safe to "stand down" and to begin the recovery phase? You will want to conduct testing of the primary systems and process to ensure that they are operating appropriately. Test plans and scripts for these tests should be predetermined.

Once the organization is confident that it is safe to disengage from the contingency mode, staff will need to have step-by-step instructions for stopping the contingency process and transitioning to the primary process. Depending on the situation, these instructions may need to cover data transfer and archival as well as various data management and table maintenance issues.

Restarting Primary Processes

Restarting primary processes leads your organization from its contingency operations to a stable, permanent solution. You will first need to make sure that systems are tested and operating smoothly. Data captured in the contingency mode will need to be entered into the system. Staff will need to transition out of the contingency mode and back into the normal operating processes.

Technology Concerns

Information management issues will be a key concern for event management.  You will want to automate as much of the message tracking and be able to route and log your incident information.  Detailed information on Command Center information management issues and solutions is now available on the command center page. 


Your event management plans must be integrated with your overall enterprise continuity management and emergency management approach and must be tested through drills and exercises that test your plans, your people, and your tools. No one knows what events will occur but you can be certain that taking the necessary planning and preparedness steps ahead of time will limit damages and speed the recovery process. Having good plans in place, drilling on them and using a robust information management system to implement and track their execution will prove to be invaluable.


Command Centers 
Business Continuity Planning
Continuity Management 
Emergency Management 
Disaster Recovery


All Hands Comprehensive Emergency Management Planning

Disaster Recovery Journal - includes a disaster recovery glossary

Maptech MapServer - great topographical maps for any location. 

Disaster Resources

The Disaster Center

Internet Disaster Information Network

Emergency Preparedness Information Exchange

Emergency Net - 24 Hour News, Information, Analysis and Coverage of Disasters and Major Emergency Events. 

Disaster Recovery Institute of Canada - Professional Practices for Business Continuity Planners

Sample Emergency Management Plans

Emergency Plans and Forms (Texas)

The Emergency Manager's Toolbox

Sample Emergency Management Plans (New York)

Sample Emergency Plans (Wisconsin)

Emergency Management Plans (Austin, TX)

Emergency Management Plans (City University, London)

Emergency Management Planning Handbook

Sample Press Releases for Emergencies (Florida)

Managing Crises Before They Happen: What Every Executive and Manager Needs to Know About Crisis Management -  shows how crisis management starts with mechanisms in place long before crises occur. Promotes continuous proactive measures that can prevent a crisis or limit its impact. The author sees crisis management as "...inherently the process of seeing and dealing with larger, whole systems.”

Contingency Planning and Disaster Recovery - Protecting Your Organization's Resources.   outlines practical disaster recovery goals and explains how to best meet these goals through a step-by-step plan. The report includes a discussion of who should be involved in the planning and why it is essential to identify and prioritize critical business applications and information. 

See other Continuity Management Books


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Last updated: Sunday, October 30, 2005 09:49 AM

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