Critical Event Management, Risk Management

Two Keys to Proactive, Holistic Critical Event Management

By Sarah Perry

In the ecosystem of your business, no department is an island. And nothing brings the interdependency of your operations into focus more quickly than a crisis.

When it comes to successful critical event management (CEM), “holistic” is the watchword of the day. It refers to the underlying principle that each group in your organization is interconnected, making its various parts inextricable from the whole. And yet, when a critical event occurs, many organizations fail to react according to their top-level strategic priorities. Instead, it’s the siloed approach that usually prevails.

At a time when the threat landscape is becoming more chaotic and many organizations are struggling to keep pace, organizational and technology silos make responding to a crisis significantly harder. Here’s why.

The Impact of Organizational Silos

Organizational silos remain an all-too-common feature in today’s business environment. Only one percent of organizations split critical event management across multiple disciplines, and only 17 percent have tapped their enterprise risk management team to manage CEM, according to a new Forrester Consulting study commissioned by OnSolve.

One reason for this disconnect is that each business group is tied to its own set of policies, procedures, systems and networks, with only limited connections to other functional groups and technology stacks within the organization.

In addition, many organizations assign responsibility for their critical event management programs to information security and business continuity professionals, while failing to engage business leaders across their operations. When functional leaders aren’t included in organizational crisis planning, it’s more difficult to align priorities and orchestrate an effective response to emerging threats.

The Problem with Technology Missteps

Technology missteps create another obstacle to effective crisis response. When organizations fail to extend CEM technologies across functions, they must rely on a cobbled-together collection of built and bought solutions. In fact, only a quarter of risk and security professionals believe the solutions they leverage for critical event management are delivering full value to their organizations, the study found.

Further, just 37 percent of respondents ranked improving integration among their three top CEM objectives for this year. Considering that one or more critical events can cascade across multiple areas of an organization simultaneously, lack of full perspective can unwittingly leave some teams in the dark and unable to respond. 

When crisis response is disjointed and uneven, the end result is more damage to reputation and revenue than necessary. In fact, there are a number of consequences for your operations with a siloed approach. They include:

  • Difficulty monitoring the threat landscape
  • Inability to quickly identify risk and effectively plan
  • Lack of actionable intelligence
  • Adversity throughout your response process
  • Reactive strategies that result in lost time, effort and money
  • Some departments left in the dark or without the right instructions for mitigating risk

How to Unify Crisis Response

How do you close the gaps and establish a holistic approach to critical event management? By aligning organizational priorities and integrating technology across operations, organizations can resolve critical events swiftly and achieve better outcomes.

1. Align organizational priorities

The first step is to create a critical event management plan that addresses risk across the organization. Most importantly, this plan should align with and support top-level organizational goals and strategies.

Be sure to communicate your organization’s overall risk management priorities and ensure everyone understands how organizational priorities relate to their own domain. From individuals to teams to departments, every single person must understand what actions they must take in a crisis to support strategic priorities.

This type of proactive, holistic risk management approach will ensure responses are coordinated across the organization and successful outcomes are achieved.

2. Integrate CEM technology

During a critical event, it’s vital to be able to see the overall picture of how different areas of your operations are affected, in real time. A 360-degree view of your operations and the ability to orchestrate responses across the business significantly improves your ability to protect your people, places and property.

Yet a majority of firms don’t have a unified view of their operations. Only about one-third of risk and security professionals say their technologies are actually well-integrated today, even though three-fourths say integration is important to effective response. In addition, respondents report a roughly even distribution of homegrown and commercial CEM solutions.

The key to fixing this problem is to integrate CEM systems with other organizational technology and to ensure key capabilities like risk intelligence, critical communications and incident management are integrated as well. This approach ensures you’ll have the perspective you need to make better decisions in any critical event.

Learn how to break down your organizational and technology silos. Download Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail (October, 2021) a commissioned study by Forrester Consulting on behalf of OnSolve to learn more about the difference it can make for your organization.

Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail: Take A Proactive Approach To Critical Event Management To Improve Risk Preparedness

Download the full commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of OnSolve, and gain more insights into the “why” behind effective strategies to manage critical events.