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VG Tuesday Tips: Nine Tips to Prepare for Every Critical Event

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By Sabrina Forgione, Cylance

Critical events such as cyber attacks, IT outages, extreme weather events, and safety hazards have long-lasting impacts on private and public organizations. The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) estimates the average cost of a safety incident at US$1.8M (€$1.5m), and that of an extreme weather incident at US$1.3M (€$1.0m). Such events also incur many indirect costs that are harder to measure, such as the negative impact on employee well-being and reputational damage.

Consequently, every organization should have an emergency preparedness program, emergency management plan, policies and procedures, and a critical event management (CEM) platform at the ready to mitigate such costs. But where should you start? What factors should you consider? Here are nine tips to help you prepare for all types of critical events.

1. Understand that you cannot achieve 100% readiness for every scenario.
Although you cannot be completely prepared for every possible scenario, critical event management can make the difference between success and failure. Comprehensive emergency planning supported by critical event management technology can mitigate negative impacts on people, other assets, and operations.

2. Expect the unexpected — put processes in place now.
The risk landscape constantly changes. Current global conditions present numerous inevitable and unpredictable threats from political instability to extreme weather and cyber attacks. The COVID-19 pandemic was the turning point that made CEM a top priority for enterprises and government agencies.

3. Identify your critical assets.
People, including but not limited to employees, visitors, and partners, constitute your most valuable resource. Critical events impact physical assets — buildings and other facilities, IT assets, personal information, and company data — as well as intangible assets such as brand reputation, product inventory, supply chains, and machinery. Make a prioritized list based on the likelihood and impact of any given critical event.

4. Implement a system that alerts many people quickly and flexibly.
According to BCI, 52% of organizations with critical event management platforms initiated their plans within five minutes, in contrast to only 21% of organizations without CEM platforms. The platform helps key stakeholders to centralize collaboration, access data quicker, and improve overall response time. In addition, you gain the flexibility to target alerts to individuals and groups based on your criteria and the ability to reach everyone at once via multiple modalities, such as text, email, phone, and more.

5. Use a unified set of tools.
Improve your organization’s ability to respond to emergencies and other critical events with a unified platform that can receive and manage data as well as enable collaboration and communication. The integration of real-time monitoring with a critical event management platform extracts data from a variety of sources (e.g., social media, traditional media, weather and geological services, government) to trigger notification and response processes.

6. Get the critical event expertise you need.
Focused critical event management expertise can help establish role clarity, formal processes, and an automated centralized platform vital for the success of your emergency preparedness plan. Such expertise can also help avoid siloed, manual, or disjointed processes and technology that may fail to protect people and other assets.

7. Build a foundation for critical event management.
Lay the groundwork for success. Ensure that all your data sources are trustworthy and your contacts are up to date. Take an inventory of your assets. Create partnerships with senior leadership and public sector agencies and run joint practice drills to familiarize all stakeholders with their expected roles and responsibilities.

8. Ensure sensitive data stays secure.
Choose a critical event management solution that is secure, compliant with industry regulations, and trusted by enterprises and governments worldwide.

9. Improve incident response processes with very event.
Learn from previous critical events. Review every notification, response, and chat group conversation and draw insight from analytics in a structured after-action review. Lessons learned provide opportunities to improve responses for future critical events.

Are You Ready for Every Critical Event?
The success of your incident response depends on keeping people safe and managing critical events with clear communications, decisive action, and transparency. A single, unified, proven critical event management platform is the best defense against known and unknown threats to your people and other assets.

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