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The time is now to prepare for a crisis: Four digital capabilities to look out for on the critical event management technology market

  • Written by James Boddam-Whetham, CEO, Noggin

From reactive to proactive. Don’t wait for crises to prepare

No longer looming, the crisis threat is here. Organisations have an unfortunate habit, though, of waiting until it’s too late to prepare.

Indeed, despite close shaves with SARS, H1N1, Ebola and other, more localised epidemics, levels of pandemic preparedness were low going into the COVID crisis.

More than 70 percent of businesses lacked pandemic-specific emergency plans.i Even the majority of companies that had business continuity plans didn’t plan for emergencies of sufficiently long duration.ii

How you prepare for crises matters

Not all crisis preparedness measures are created equal. Organisations often consider themselves fully prepared after putting together crisis management plans, when running regular simulation exercises is a better barometer of crisis preparedness.

Why is that? Well, crisis simulations provide valuable trial and error learning for the “first responders” to corporate crisis (i.e. employees), helping to ensure that all workers are comfortable performing the tasks assigned to them and going off-script if the situation demands.

Pursuing crisis preparedness the right way matters more than ever in the new normal of COVID. Latent challenges have become more acute, as new challenges have surfaced.

The workplace, for one, is more geographically fragmented. That means that the manual, paper-based processes that many (if not most) organisations rely on to respond to their critical events just won’t work.

That’s not the only challenge to effective critical event management exacerbated by the pandemic. The ubiquity of corporate communications tools, too, renders it more difficult for crisis communications to get through traditional channels.

The advantages of digitising critical event management

What can be done? At Noggin, we recommend digitising critical event management processes, starting by investing in software solutions and related services designed to manage an organisation’s preparation, response, and recovery from the events that impact its continuity, operations, and safety.

Not just high-impact events, either. Digital critical event management solutions can help organisations handle lower-impact events and critical issues, as well. That gives the organisations that procure these solutions the advantage of being able to use the same tools to manage smaller issues as they do for larger impact events.

Other benefits of digitising critical event management include:

  • * Improved communication and coordination

  • * Operational efficiency

  • * Better visibility and situational awareness

  • * Enhanced threat forecasting

  • * Leaves an audit trail

  • * Reduced costs

Four digital capabilities to look out for

What solutions generate the most significant communication, collaboration, and/or information capture benefits? Technology customers should consider critical event management systems and multiple use case solutions that ensure continuous improvement.

These solutions have significantly embraced broader digital innovations, such as interfaces and experiences, business enablement, and productivity. A look at the market suggests the following four digital capabilities stand out:

  1. Crisis management and communications. Critical event management solutions should apply best practices to plan for, respond to, and manage critical events and exercises. Built on international standards, such as ISO 22398, these solutions should enable faster response, better collaboration using plans and playbooks, smart workflows, and real-time dashboards and insights. Furthermore, these single systems can help organisations manage complex communications, centralising, approving, and standardising their crisis response, to provide effective communication pathways for all aspects of critical event management.

  1. Incident response plans and checklists. Best-practice digital libraries should come included, so that organisations can easily use their critical event management solutions to create crisis strategies and action plans for different types of events.

  1. Welfare checks. Critical event management solutions should also enable organisations to send welfare check messages to relevant staff. Organisations will then be able to collate the replies that come back to identify who needs assistance and prioritise follow-up actions.

  1. Emergency management and resource mapping. Critical event management solutions should follow ISO, ICS, and other best-practice incident management standards. That way they keep entire teams following the same plans, communicating on the same platform, and viewing the same operating picture.

The solutions should also come equipped with powerful mapping tools to create multilayers maps, integrating both external feeds and any information housed within the platform.

Finally, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to not wait to prepare. The next crisis is just around the corner; and it will last longer than you think.

Fortunately, rapid innovation in the critical event management space has left organisations in a better place than before.

Organisations, however, must first avail themselves of those innovations, pursuing tactical, digital technology investments in tandem with critical event management strategies optimised to effectively managing any event (big or small) through its entire lifecycle, by enabling faster response, better collaboration, decision-making, and continuous improvement.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can digitise your critical event management strategies, Noggin is hosting a User Conference virtual event on 2 December with <guest speakers such as Woolworths Group, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney Airport (Aviation) and the Victoria Department of Health.

ii< <Forty-eight percent of surveyed companies had plans that covered two to three weeks of emergency operations, while fewer than a quarter (22 percent) had plans that covered contingencies for more than two months.< Todd R. Weiss, Tech Republic: Business continuity plans and tech are lacking during the coronavirus pandemic. Available at https://www.techrepublic.com/article/business-continuity-plans-and-tech-are-lacking-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/.

About James Boddam-Whetham James Boddam-Whetham is the CEO of Noggin, an integrated security, safety, crisis & emergency management, and business continuity software provider. The award-winning Noggin platform provides an all-hazards approach to safety and security management, housing all the tools needed to help make informed decisions and respond effectively to any incident, large or small. Noggin’s software platform includes solutions for: crisis management, business continuity, environmental health and safety, emergency management, security management, and case management. https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-bw/ https://www.noggin.io/

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