Establish the Crisis Management Organization

The management of an effective CM plan and program for any organization has to have an effective crisis management organisation.

Moh Heng Goh

Objective of Crisis Management

The implementation of the Crisis Management (CM) program for any organization has four main objectives:

  • Reduce tension during the incident.
  • Demonstrate corporate commitment and expertise.
  • Control the flow and accuracy of the information.
  • Manage resources efficiently.

One of the contributing factors to meeting these objectives is establishing a crisis management organization.


IC_CM_Establish the Crisis Management Organization

Forming the Team

A typical CM organization can begin by establishing:

  • Crisis Management Planning Team (CMP Team)
  • Crisis Management Team (CM Team)
  • Command Centre Operation Team (CCOT)
  • Crisis Communication Team
  • Incident Management Team (IMT or IM Team)

Composition of CM Team

Crisis Management Planning (CMP) Team

This team operates during “peacetime”, and the primary roles of the CMP team are to:

  • Determine the scope of the CM project.
  • Design all responses to anticipated crises.
  • Review the policies and crises on a regular basis.

Also, the CMP team:

  • Designates the command centers.
  • Plans and prepares for testing and exercising the crisis management plans.
  • Ensures the effectiveness and preparedness of the CM system.

The CM Planning Team should be as small as possible. Its tasks are to oversee the process of devising an effective CM plan, ensuring a schedule of training and testing, and securing the resources for carrying out what the plan will call for.

Crisis Management Team (CMT)

CMP Team is the group of assigned individuals who have the skills and professional discipline to respond effectively to a crisis. In its pre-crisis mode, it is responsible for evaluating policy options and in conjunction with the CM Team, it formulates corporate crisis management policies.

Should an incident occur, the CM Team assumes responsibility for assessing the threat and within the parameters of its charter, directs all crisis management activities.

CM Team consists of key executives, essential key supporting players, and heads of business with critical functions. Each member has a set of pre-defined roles and responsibilities for implementing the CM Plan.

The CM Team can include legal counsel, investigators, public relations or corporate communications and human resources. It also provides investor relations, risk management, financial, marketing, information technology, employee relations, facilities or property, and engineering.

During a crisis, the main tasks of the CM Team are to:

  • Prepare and approve information for the general public.
  • Prioritize operations and consider legal implications.
  • Coordinate with the Command Centre Operations (CCO) Team.
  • Approve Declaration of CM, BC and DR plan.

 The CMT does not need to be an original executive management team as not every business unit needs to be represented.

Crisis Communication Team

The Crisis Communication team usually forms part of the Crisis Management team. Its primary role is to formulate a public response to a crisis. The tasks for the team during a crisis are to:

  • Formulate a detailed plan in the event of a possible crisis.
  • Organize all information that is delivered to the media.
  • Designate a primary spokesperson.

Manage all internal communication and provide updates to employees.

Command Centre Operation (CCO) Team

The CCOT is the second team to be set up. It should draw on steady, reliable and experienced people who can function in the Command Centre. Their tasks during a crisis are to:

  • Activate the CM plan and system upon declaration by CM Team.
  • Establish a communication network.
  • Evaluate the need for medical services.
  • Access fire danger.
  • Engage search and rescue efforts.
  • Provide support for emergency responders.
  • Coordinate communication efforts with the larger
  • Any other duties that the CMT designates.

In general, this team should make the type of tactical decisions that will ease the crisis. There should be a clearly identified CCOT Leader.

Incident Management (IM) Team

Depending on the nature of the incident, other organization locations may be directly or indirectly affected.

Local Management Teams called Incident Management Teams are responsible for carrying out corporate policy and operational recovery as it affects them and as directed by the (Headquartered) Crisis Management Team.

The tasks of the IT team during a crisis at the location are to:

  • Activate the response system upon declaration by CM Team and CCO team.
  • Coordinate with the civil authorities and resources, such as the police, ambulance services, and search and rescue.

Roles of Team Leaders and Members

CM Planning (CMP) Team Leader

A CMP Team Leader should report to the CEO. It is observed that in some instances, this Team Leader reports to a CFO, Chief Legal Counsel, or Director of Communications. The concern is that this reporting risks the Team leader being pigeonholed into one discipline, defeating the purpose of an effective, functioning CM team, which should be cross-disciplinary.

This person is in charge of the entire CM team. He or she has the final say in any decisions that must be made and directs the actions of other team members. The CM team regularly gives the team leader status updates and flags any issue that needs immediate attention. The team leader is often the Chief Executive Officer or a direct appointee of the CEO or Chairman.

The CEO should ensure representation from:

  • Finance
  • Operations
  • Safety/ Security
  • Law
  • Communications
  • Marketing
  • Human Resource/ Labour


In today's media environment, professional and citizen journalists through social media take an immediate interest in crisis situations.

The CM team's spokesperson conducts press conferences, fields phone calls, drafts press releases and prioritizes interviews with other officials if necessary. The spokesperson also either monitors ongoing media coverage for accuracy or has additional team members that do so and report to him. He usually has an everyday communications role, such as being a media officer or being in public relations, within the organization. Refer to Manage Crisis Communication.


Command Centre Operations (CCO) Team Leader

This person or people (could rotate this position but ensure it is always filled) stays in the Command Centre and assures the members are working with the most current information.

Appointed by and assists the CM Team Leader in managing the CM team activities including:

  • Record information and comments from the CM team.
  • Make CM team leader aware of new information.
  • Record and log chronologically
  • Update CM team members as they arrive or return to the centre.
  • Record questions from CM team members that can be used as prompts for communication between the corporate and IM team leader and follow-up by the team.
  • Assist CM Team Leader in managing CMT activities.
  • Track/document critical phone numbers and contacts that may not be predetermined before the crisis (e.g., hotel where crisis site team is operating during a disaster)

Command Centre Operations (CCO) Team Member

If not a particular individual, these duties need to be assumed by one or more team members:

  • Provide computer support to access data and procedures.
  • Operate and relay faxes.
  • Provide copies of documents.
  • Provide weather conditions from the internet.
  • Gather information that may be needed
  • For example, a Transportation Company or restoration contractor could help access the CM schedule and calendar.
  • Help to set up the Command Centre room.
  • Make sure telecommunication equipment is ready.

A Manager’s Guide to Implementing Your Crisis Management Plan


Goh, M. H. (2016). A Manager’s Guide to Implement Your Crisis Management Plan. Business Continuity Management Specialist Series (1st ed., p. 192). Singapore: GMH Pte Ltd.

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