TUG Buzz! for Monday October 28, 2019


  1. Resilience Planning - article by Martin Gierczak and Garth Tucker
  2. November MoM - application and database modernization
  3. Stay Connected - Confirm your subscription to TUG Buzz

CRISIS Communications in Resilience Planning


   • Martin Gierczak, CBCP, IMP LinkedIn Martin Gierczak
   • Garth Tucker, CBCP LinkedIn Garth Tucker

Hello? Hello? Where is everyone?

Before we begin, let's clarify that a CRISIS communication plan is not the same as your existing corporate communication plan. It's certainly not meant to take the place of your corporate communications, except in the event of a CRISIS.

Think of it as a subset/addendum to your corporate communication plan and don't close the door on a resilience practitioner who just wants to ensure that specific processes are followed during a crisis event. 

Some, and I repeat, some, organizations have absolutely stellar crisis communication plans that have been well thought-out, the people involved have been trained and the plan is tested "on the regular", to use a phrase popular with those crazy kids these days.

Then there are the rest.

Some make an effort and have basic contact information documented for folks who would be required during a crisis and assume the information is current and they'll answer when called. They use phone trees… Well, the 1990s called the phone tree and want their process back. I'm not saying phone trees are a bad thing, but there are so many better ways to contact the right people effectively these days. You're wasting valuable time calling your 3 – 7 people to advise them of the situation vs pushing a button. This is time that could be better spent responding to the crisis you're calling them about in the first place.

Some make an effort and have basic contact information documented for folks who would be required during a crisis and assume the information is current and they'll answer when called. They use phone trees… Well, the 1990s called the phone tree and want their process back. I'm not saying phone trees are a bad thing, but there are so many better ways to contact the right people effectively these days. You're wasting valuable time calling your 3 – 7 people to advise them of the situation vs pushing a button. This is time that could be better spent responding to the crisis you're calling them about in the first place.

Then there are the organizations who just assume they'll know how to get in touch with people and that those people will know how to respond and whom they're responsible for contacting, etc., etc., etc. This methodology gets very ugly, very quickly in a crisis situation.

What many organizations don't realize, is that contacting people is not the whole story. The whole story involves processes, contact information & methods, media (traditional and social) management, and most importantly, ensuring you're managing the narrative of the event and not allowing outside influence to distort things.
As I've mentioned in many articles I've written over the years, communications is almost always listed as a takeaway for improvement in resilience program/plan/response/exercise post-mortem meetings. Sadly, over and over and over again in the same organization. I have many theories on why this is, but will not get into them and distract from the point of this discussion.
How can BC/DR/EM Practitioners do better?
Here's DRI's Professional Practice 9 – Crisis Communications as a guide:

  • Provide a framework for developing a crisis communications plan.
  • Ensure that the crisis communications plan will provide for timely, effective communication with internal and external parties.

The Professionals Role          

  • Design, develop, and implement a crisis communications plan.
  • Communicate and train members of the crisis communications team on their roles and responsibilities.
  • Exercise/test the crisis communications plan.
  • Update the crisis communications plan.
  • Learn to work effectively with both internal and external communications (Public Relations) team in your organization.

This has been something I've noticed in several organizations I've consulted with over the years. For reasons unknown to me, the resilience team and the communications team are not simpatico. So there's a disconnect during crisis events.

  • Better yet, develop your plans with the communication team as a major stakeholder. They will be able to contribute to the success of the plan by providing expertise on:
    1. External messaging for social media,
    2. Build out of a social media response and fulfillment processes (e.g. Getting a customer request via twitter or Facebook direct message)
    3. Frequent media interview training and crisis preparedness for executives (How well would your executives speak to media regarding the crisis, what would they say, how would they do it?)

The communications team members are the experts in ensuring the organizations reputation is protected and they know how to deal with outside/media questions. Letting them develop the strategy for a response by giving them your requirements is the most effective way to ensure relatively smooth sailing in a crisis.
Plus, it's one less thing you need to worry about while you're fighting whatever particular fire constitutes the crisis you're responding to at the moment. I've been part of Crisis Management Teams (CMTs), Emergency Response Teams (ERTs), involved in Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs), and called out at 2 AM to failed IT hardware over the years and believe me, any time you can download effort to someone who's an expert, it's a good thing.

  • Make the HR team part of the planning and response processes.

Wait? What? The HR Team? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? How is the HR team part of crisis communication planning and response?

Good question! Glad you asked smiley face

The HR team are the folks who know:

  • Where everyone lives
  • Their contact information
  • The rules / regulations around contacting staff outside of the business environment and regular work hours
  • The laws governing asking them to work outside of their normal job description
    • Especially important when dealing with unionized staff
  • Trauma Management: HR will coordinate Trauma Management for your employees, and provide employees with the care needed during and after a crisis. Such coordinated efforts could include counselling, personal support, rehabilitation, time off work, and so much more critical processes to ensure employee mental health is considered during any crisis event. 
  • Health & Safety: Most organizations have health & safety report into Human Resources. Depending on the crisis, you need to have a partner in Health & safety to ensure employee safety and to ensure your organization follows the appropriate legislative requirements in the event of an injury or death from the crisis. In addition, having Health & Safety "synergize" with business continuity planning makes more effective loss of people planning.
  • AND most importantly, they're the folks who'll ensure you get paid smiley face

If you haven't coordinated with HR, you may find yourself dealing with agonizing employment law or collective bargaining agreement issues during and after a crisis. Avoid this by involving them early in the communication and response process planning.
An important gotcha that Resilience practitioners likely wouldn't catch, that the HR Team will, is related to privacy legislation. They are the people who are responsible for ensuring the legislation found HERE is followed within the organization and avoids leaving the door open to possible legal actions from crossing the privacy line.

  • Educate.

I was the auditor of an exercise for a client this past summer. To that end, I had studied their response plans, audited their exercise event plan and everything looked great, was a truly impressive effort and product. I had high hopes that they would hit it out of the park and everyone would be rock stars.

Things went as expected for about 5 minutes and when I asked the Crisis Management Team (CMT) why they weren't sending alerts through their mass notification software, there were many red faces who admitted they didn't know how to use the software and did not know the passwords.



Oopsie… That's gonna leave a mark smiley face

They felt a little better after I pointed out that this is what tests are for and that it was better here than in a real event.

I didn't put it on the people who developed the plan that they should have noted that there was no check mark next to the task of educating the CMT on this key process. I spoke with them offline and told them to expect questions from the senior leadership team about why they weren't trained. I won't throw you under the bus, but my analysis report will be scrupulously honest.

  • Test/Exercise.

As mentioned in the previous example, testing finds those dark corners that aren't immediately apparent and can throw your response into complete disarray right from the get go. I won't go into my test diatribe here, but if you want to hear more about testing, see my article on the TUG Buzz e-zine.

This article isn't a replacement for a full crisis communication planning process, but I hope I've opened your eyes to some of the pitfalls and how to avoid them in your resilience planning! Good luck and remember to hug your Practitioner today smiley face

As always, thank you to the folks who provided peer review for this article and suggestions to help us appear smarter than we are.


November Meeting of Members

Sandman HotelDate: Wednesday Nov. 20, 2019

Sandman Signature Mississauga Hotel

5400 Dixie Road

** FREE Parking **


Kyle Foster, Partner Ecosystem Executive for IBM Systems in Canada

Kyle FosterKyle Foster has spent over 25 years with IBM Canada in a variety of successful sales management and leadership roles.

He has experience in all facets of IBM's business, including hardware, software and services sales in both large and small enterprises.

Kyle has a comprehensive history with the IBM POWER Brand and IBM i.

Daniel Lefebvre, Director of Canadian Ecosystems, Fresche Solutions

Daniel LefebvreDaniel Lefebvre has over 20 years of experience in business development for the technology industry, and has assisted many clients in improving their IT systems. He particularly excels at focusing on customer service and establishing a sustainable business relationship. With a dynamic attitude and a willingness to learn, Daniel enjoys communication, business development and teamwork. His role as the Director of the Canadian Ecosystem allows him to help Fresche's partners and clients choose the best solutions to modernize, maintain and transform their IBM i applications, thereby bringing more value to their business.

Robert Arce, IT Strategist in Client Solutions Advisory, Fresche Solutions

Robert ArceRobert Arce assists companies all over the world with their modernization projects.

He has vast experience designing and developing applications, especially for manufacturing, sales and distribution environments.

He is an expert in the X-Analysis suite for IBM i application analysis and management and is an active member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metro Midrange Systems Association (DFW MMSA users group).

     AGENDA for November 20th MoM

ADMISSION:  Free for TUG members (non-members also free,
this day only - sponsored by Freshe Solutions)

Registration  3:30 pm

4:00 pm - Session 1: Succeeding in a World full of Digital Disrupters (Speaker: Kyle Foster)

Abstract: When it comes to "Digital Disruption" we hear a great deal about the rising web-based start-ups. They dominate the news cycle; but who are the winners and who are the losers? ...

read more

5:00 pm - Session 2: How IBM i Modernization can help grow your business (Speaker: Daniel Lefebvre)

Abstract: Are you thinking of modernization? Whether you've just started the process, are mid-way through or are contemplating the idea, this topic is for you. Your IBM i applications may currently meet your needs, but are they future-proof? ...

read more

6:00 pm - Intermission (Buffet Dinner & Networking)

7:00 pm - Session 3: Demystifying the Challenges of IBM i Database Modernization (Speaker: Robert Arce)

Abstract: Database modernization is quite often considered a risky undertaking. Hundreds of programs may access and modify your data with native I/O and SQL. Dependencies between the tables or data is hidden within the program logic, and not directly visible. ...

read more

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