Crisis Management Series
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[CM] Step 9: Obtain Commitment and Approval

A Crisis Management Planning (CMP) project with no real Executive Management commitment or an inadequate budget will be compromised.


Even if the CMP project gets off the ground, it is unlikely to be completed or produce a viable CM plan.


Your objective is to obtain initial and ongoing support from the executive management.

Moh Heng Goh
Crisis Management Certified Planner-Specialist-Expert

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Get Executive Management to Buy-In

IC_More_CM Project_Obtain Commitment and ApprovalIC_More_Step 9If it is going to be effective, a CM plan needs support and buy-in from many stakeholders, namely the CEO, CFO, COO, and CIO.

They should want to support the CM planning effort; failure could expose them and the organisation.

However, while the Executive Management should be aware of the need for CM planning, this is one of those issues that people tend to avoid or overlook.

Some reasons for this are misconceptions about potential threats, planning costs, and manpower. Several effective methods can help you gain support for organization-wide CMP.

Relate Recent Crisis or Disasters

For instance, pick up any newspaper and find a list of natural and man-made disasters and crises. Relate these disaster stories to your situation. As an Organisation CM Coordinator, you know that a significant crisis and disaster can mean a loss of vital corporate assets, market share, corporate reputation, and business momentum.

Depicting such severe crises or disasters is guaranteed to get the attention of your Executive Management.

The current COVID-19 outbreak is an excellent example of how management will respond to a recent disaster or ongoing pandemic.

Develop Business Case

Solicit Executive Management support by developing a business statement on the importance of having a CM plan. Sometimes, the Organisation's CM Coordinator may want to refer to the Business Impact Analysis (BIA) process. It quantifies disasters with metrics such as the hourly cost of an outage or intangible impact, which management quickly understands.

With Executive Management buy-in, the CM plan can be revisited frequently to consider changes in the business process. When you are presenting the case for a CM plan, avoid putting all your emphasis on the adverse effects of an emergency. Instead, emphasize the positive aspects. This includes telling the Executive Management that a plan:

  •  Helps organisations fulfil their moral responsibility to protect employees, shareholders, the community, and the environment
  • Helps organizations meet regulations
  • Enhances ability to recover from financial losses, fines, loss of market share, damage to equipment or products, and business interruptions
  • Reduces exposure to civil or criminal liability
  • Enhances image and credibility with employees, customers, suppliers, and the community
  • Avoids and mitigates controllable risks
  • May reduce insurance premiums

Understand Business Concerns

When you present your CMP project proposal, make sure you address the business issues that the Executive Management is always concerned with:

  • Why do I need a CM plan?
    • It protects the organization's assets and reputation
    • It reduces corporate and personal liability from losses
    • It provides a way to resume critical business functions in the shortest possible time
    • It protects your customers and supply chain

  •  How much is it going to cost?
    • Cost of doing it
    • The cost of not doing it can be bottomless

  • What contingencies do we have to plan for?
    • Crisis Scenario: Ransomware attack; Legal issues for failure to deliver services
    • Disasters: Widespread, multi-day disruptions of business, including loss of facility
    • Outages: Confined, short-duration loss of IT system and resources

CMP Is Another Business Strategy

Organisations often spend many workdays away from their offices developing their short-term and long-term strategic plans. They gather their staff members at annual business retreats to develop strategies to improve their bottom line.

The key is to convince the Executive Management that CMP is another strategy for the organisation to minimize financial loss and loss of reputation in the event of a disaster.

Obtain Full Support from Executive Management

It is unrealistic to attempt any organisation-wide CMP project without the full approval and support of the Executive Management. A CMP will only be as good as the resources allocated when prepared - only the Executive Management can authorise this. Without authorizations, you will have little mandate to proceed with the implementation. Be ready to get some pretty high-ranking people who may be against the effort.

Only the Executive Management can enforce the resource requirements and release the necessary funds for upgrading your operations. Get them on your side before you start, and ensure they stay there.

Present the Business Case to Executive Management

As crucial as Executive Management's commitment is, it is even more critical to have the full support of the Heads of the Business Unit. These are the individuals in middle management whose support or lack of it can make or break the CMP project. Get them on board early by presenting a solid business case for the CMP project in terms that they can relate to. 

Obtain Formal Project Approval

Insist upon formal approval for the CMP project. Prepare a written proposal, including estimated costs and staffing requirements, and request that the Executive Management sign it in all affected areas. The Organization CM Coordinator should not rely on verbal approval alone, as the proposal must be formally approved.

Gain Commitment Incrementally

Breaking a CMP project into phases helps keep it manageable and provides an opportunity to gain incremental Executive Management commitment. At the end of each phase, reports on the successful completion of deliverables can be issued, and recommendations on how to proceed with the next phase can be issued.

The executive management should be predisposed to endorse the recommendations since the ability to produce results has already been demonstrated. As each phase builds upon another, the Executive Management's comfort level in making CMP project commitments will increase.


CM Project Management Steps

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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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