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Crisis Management Plan Template

When a crisis happens, the worst thing you can do is panic and waste precious time trying to figure out your best response. What you need instead is a carefully thought-out crisis management plan, so you and your team can get over the initial shock easily and organize your business to recover as quickly as possible. It’s no secret that in a time of crisis, every minute counts and the sooner you apply the strategies in your crisis plan, the better chances you have of survival in the long term.

But what exactly is a crisis management plan?

A crisis response plan is a document that describes the actions your organization should take during and after a critical event to minimize losses, preserve resources, and restore operations as soon as possible.

A crisis can be anything that jeopardizes people’s lives and safety or the organization itself – for instance:

  • Natural disasters and biological risks (e.g. hurricanes, pandemics)
  • Accidents caused by humans (e.g. hazardous spills, explosions)
  • Intentional harm caused by humans (e.g. violent acts, false rumors)
  • Technological events (e.g. cyber-attacks or machine breakdowns)

What is included in a crisis management plan?

A quick google search will reveal a myriad of crisis management plan examples, all of them different. This diversity might be confusing when you want to figure out what to include in your own plan, but the truth is that the details of such a document will vary across industries and should be tailored to each organization.

To help get you started though, here are a few key elements that are common to most good crisis plan examples, regardless of industry or company profile:

  1. Activation guidelines. Define exactly what constitutes a crisis, since not every issue you encounter should activate the crisis management process. Set criteria for levels of urgency to clarify what protocol should be activated depending on scenario.
  2. Chain of command and crisis management teams. Establish a response team and write down exactly who reports to whom and what responsibilities they have in case of a crisis. To avoid chaos or paralysis during a catastrophe, there should be no question about who should be doing what.
  3. Detailed action plans. These are basically checklists of all tasks involved in responding to various scenarios and are meant to ensure that no task gets overlooked when hell breaks loose. When creating the action plans, it’s best to prioritize tasks, designate “owners” for each, and allot a timeframe for completion as well. You could create a timeline out of these details for more clarity, but more on that later.
  4. Communication plan. This should include strategies for both internal and external crisis communication, who will act as spokespeople, notification platforms, and maybe even statement drafts or templates that can be filled out fast when needed.
  5. Resource repository. Any good crisis management plan example will also include materials and resources that might be needed by the response team to mitigate the crisis more swiftly. Such resources can include flowcharts, area maps, timelines, login credentials, key contact lists, stakeholder agreements, supplier contracts, and so on.

How do you write an effective crisis management plan?

An effective crisis plan example must provide clear instructions that people can follow easily in times of panic, so they can react fast and as rationally as possible, instead of “paralyzing” or adding to the existing chaos. This means that, when making your plan, it’s recommended to:

  1. Brainstorm scenarios before writing the plan. Sure, you won’t be able to predict every possible scenario your organization may be faced with, but it is important to anticipate as much as you can. Even if something completely unexpected happens, after brainstorming and planning the crisis response, you will instinctively make better decisions under pressure.
  2. Be thorough, yet concise. Include in your crisis planning every detail and resource that may be needed by the response team, but do make sure to not overcrowd it. In times of panic, people will not have time to browse through pages and pages of redundant data just to get to the information they need.
  3. Use visuals. Visuals are easier to spot at a glance than large chunks of text, so wherever possible, use diagrams, timelines and charts to ensure no second is wasted when looking for the details needed.

Use a crisis management timeline template for your setting up your plan

A visual crisis management plan template like the one at the top of this page can be of great help in setting up your action plan. Designed as a colorful timeline with Swimlanes, it stands out well and is easy to follow, allowing you and the team to quickly see the succession of activities required in case of critical events.

Our free crisis management timeline example provides a high-level view of the entire crisis management process, from when the crisis occurs to response, business continuity process, and review & recovery. It also includes a crucial (but often neglected) aspect in any emergency situation, which is crisis communication.

How to make the most out of our crisis management plan template

Built as a Microsoft PowerPoint slide using the Office Timeline add-in, the downloadable template is flexible and easy to edit by anyone who has the popular presentation tool. You can use it as a simple, generic crisis management plan example, or you can edit it with your own data to create detailed action plans for various emergency scenarios. Take advantage of the template’s Swimlane-style layout to group actions by work streams, teams or owners, and use color coding to show the level of urgency of each task or to track the status of activities.

You can edit and update the crisis management plan template using PowerPoint’s controls, or you can use Office Timeline to automate the process and move a lot faster. Office Timeline is a professional timeline maker that builds impressive, easy-to-understand visuals straight inside PowerPoint. You can use the simple but powerful free version to quickly create and update project timelines, or turn to the Pro+ edition for more complex features like timeline templates or the ability to import data from tools like Excel and Project.

With this timeline template and the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in, you can easily keep your crisis management on track and demonstrate progress to stakeholders.

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Use the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in to quickly update any of these timeline templates or create your own project visuals. Easily change the texts, dates, colors, shapes and styles of your timeline, right from inside PowerPoint.

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