8 Things to Do Before Writing a Contingency Plan

Even though safety procedures and crisis preparation should be important to all of us, fairly few employees in each organisation are fighting to establish solid routines. It's therefore vital that a contingency plan is established, based on methodical analysis and a tight framework.

To that end, we've outlined eight steps to undertake before you approach the crucial task of putting together a contingency plan.

1.  Identify Sources of Vulnerability

Firstly, you need to make a preliminary assessment of all possible risks and incidents your organisation must be prepared for – specifically outlining particular areas where your company is vulnerable to risk.

Creating a basic risk profile is a crucial first step. After all, you can't prepare for incidents without first identifying the types of risks your organisation is most likely to encounter.

2. Understand Legal Requirements

Some businesses are subject to rules and regulations concerning the level of preparedness expected of them, therefore it's important to fully understand the laws your organisation must abide by.

Owners, customers, suppliers, and partners could all be affected by these legal requirements, so it's imperative that you not only understand them, but have a firm grasp of what's required of your business to remain on the right side of the law.

Discover a practical approach to contingency planning structure and content –  download our free guide. 

3. Set Preparedness Goals

Your answers to the questions posed in points 1 and 2 provide a rough guideline for deciding the level of preparedness your organisation needs to aim for.

Set yourself some clear, achievable goals, like committing to holding contingency planning meetings once a month.

4. Define Responsibilities and Processes

Ensure that members of your organisation are fully aware of who is responsible for what during a crisis situation, and which processes are in place to help structure your response.

You must define the various responsibilities clearly and delegate them to your team far in advance of a crisis taking place.

It's also worth considering how the crisis team will communicate with the first line response team – this is not something to be left to the last minute, as it can make or break your crisis response efforts.

5. Create Preliminary Plans

Establish a few simple, basic plans to guarantee:

  1. Efficient alerting and mobilisation of the emergency team.
  2. An immediate meeting of the crisis management team to make an assessment of the situation.
  3. Effective flow and sharing of all relevant information within the crisis management team.

6. Practise

Keep practising these basic plans (mobilisation and the initial group meeting) until everyone is familiar with the routines, then use the experience gained to improve the plans systematically.

7. Keep It Simple

Remember: less is sometimes more.

Don't try to achieve too much at once. Implement plans based on situations and roles gradually, as your organisation and emergency team mature and gain experience.

Focus on achieving your specific goals and make sure your plan doesn’t get so complex that people get confused during the management of a crisis.

8.  Practise Even More

A plan will never be perfect, and rarely will its execution.

As in all areas of life, consistent practise is imperative. Regular practise will mean that when an incident does strike, your crisis management team will be able to work swiftly and carry out a successful response like it's clockwork.


Once you've covered these eight steps, you'll be ready to move on to writing a comprehensive contingency plan. The prospect of this task can be daunting, but don't fear, our free ebook offers a practical approach to creating an effective plan – download it here today.

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By Jørn-Ivar Hellesnes

Jørn-Ivar is partner at One World AS. He has more than 20 years experience as leader, advisor and project manager in the Norwegian Army, public services and private sector. Former employers include the Norwegian Army, The National Emergency Planning College, Teleplan and Statoil. Jørn-Ivar is a qualified Quality System Manager and Accredited Quality Lead Auditor. He has key qualifications in the areas of project management, quality and risk management, management systems, emergency planning and preparedness, crisis management and training and exercises.

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