Structuring Incident Management Plans

The IMP is designed to allow both first responders and managers within corporate offices, as well as field project locations to understand the risk natures and response measures appropriate to their company and its operations. The IMP provides logical and user‐friendly response guidelines and information capture formats to support pragmatic incident management. The design of the IMP is an aspect of contingency planning; its implementation is a functional element of crisis management. The structure of the IMP will reflect the level of detail required by the company, as well as the complexity of the operating conditions a business activity is working under. In addition, the level of experience, capability, and reliability of those implementing the IMP should be considered, as clearer instructions and more comprehensive details may be required for a management element with limited experience in crisis management—especially for complex crisis natures. Where possible, the company should seek to retain a level of consistency in IMP structuring and approach methodologies across the group (where appropriate in terms of unique projects and environmental conditions), so that personnel moving between projects become familiar with how the plan is laid out and how it works—and that consistency of approach is maintained. The structuring of the IMP should consider five main elements:

  1. Instructions
  2. Management tools
  3. Education
  4. Information‐gathering techniques
  5. Response guidelines

Exhibit 1 illustrates some elements a company may wish to include within the IMP. The IMP should be designed to operate in isolation if necessary, despite working as a functional component of the Business Continuity Management Plan, as some user managers may not have access to supporting policies and plans, and the IMP is engineered to guide an inexperienced manager through a crisis quickly by the use of succinct and simple reference guides and instructions—reducing the need to refer to other documents in order to be effective. Where possible, elements of the Business Continuity Management Plan that are relevant to the IMP should be migrated into the plan to ensure consistency and to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.

Exhibit 1: Structuring the Incident Management Plan

The policies, instructions, and threat overviews provide the user some instruction on how the IMP should be used, and the nature and aspects of the risks the company might face—placing the IMP into an understandable context. The data call templates guide responders as to what information they would be seeking and passing through the crisis management structure, and the response guidelines illustrate what practical measures should be taken to bring control to the situation.

Resourcing the Incident Management Plan

The IMP should be resourced with the appropriate policies and plans that guide and support the implementation of responses, as well as the technology required to effectively operate the IMP. The IMP is largely a human resource—driven activity, so the correct selection of response managers, with associated training and education, is required to ensure that the IMP can be adequately managed during a crisis. The IMP will also rely on technology, and the company should consider whether the IMP has sufficient resources to be effective in the event of a crisis—notably through the use of varied communication mediums, which will form a core component of the success of the IMP. The company should ensure that sufficient communication mediums and redundancies are available to flow information, guidance, and decisions throughout the organization. Connectivity and compatibility to supporting agencies are also important. The IMP itself may be posted within the company intranet, or hard copies may be held at office locations for use.

In order to be effective, risk assessments, security surveys and plans, and other components of the Business Continuity Management Plan should be undertaken so that the IMP operates within a supported environment. The resource limitations should also be known to management, as these will determine what parameters the IMP will operate in. Resources should be considered in terms of ensuring that the IMP is applicable and relevant, has the correct level of corporate buy‐in and support, has adequate levels of practitioner education and training, has been correctly dispersed, and has the correct technological and physical materials required to make it work.

The Business Continuity Management Plan should also be resourced in terms of redundancy measures, materials, and protocols. Redundancies may apply to materials, infrastructures, or technologies. Companies may wish to ensure that information technology (IT) servers are located off the main site(s) to ensure that information storage is not directly affected by a facility crisis. Emergency or crisis response centers may also have secondary locations established, should the primary ones be within an affected area, and other crisis management resources may have backup components removed from normal facilities, including multiple‐medium access to crisis and response plans.

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