Coffee Table Case Study
A global Internet firm experienced a business-impacting event. No, it was not a data center outage or severe Act of Nature. It was a relatively simple data entry and currency exchange error. However, it resulted in the online selling of a $400.00 item at $4.0000. News of the deal-of-a-decade glitch quickly went viral. In the meantime, it took over two days for the enterprise to get their awareness around the issue, deal with global time zone differences, identify the right people, find them and get them engaged, and cobble together a plan to stop the financial bleeding and address all of the issues to unmake the error.
The answer was to develop a Global Crisis Management Program. Mr. Mannella worked to develop the program framework, build out the processes, design the team and pre-design the protocols. He worked with executive leadership to nominate the team members and secure the imprimatur for the program. He then led the training and practice with the team, ensuring that they contributed and were part of the process rather than it being thrust upon them, and developed the tools and templates for efficient operation. He also deployed automated Mass Emergency Notification - a company first - and configured it for snapshot hunt-and-call to the right people at the right time.
The result was a program that reduced detection and time-to-rally from the aforementioned two days to under fifteen minutes and greatly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of enterprise response to events. The program was kicked off with an exercise of global response to "Hurricane Zirbot", initiated and concluded by the company CEO, and lasting four days - another company first. The program continued over the years to respond to numerous business-impacting events.
Postscript: The year after the program launch, the IT department was conducting a Disaster Recovery exercise of failing over the company Web site. In the middle of the test, the Crisis Management Team called for an emergency activation. Mr. Mannella called the Crisis Lead and ask why they activated. "Well, the Web site is down and being recovered - that's a business-impacting event." Mr. Mannella exclaimed, "No no, you misunderstand! It's only a test!" The Crisis Lead calmly replied, "Yes, we saw the email traffic and know it's just a test. Our processes are integrated with Disaster Recovery. We figured we'd ride along and also exercise what we as an enterprise would do if it were real." Now that was a Best Practice!
When a business-impacting event occurs, it's too late to start thinking about a response.
From the start, it has to be swift, it has to be crisp, and it has to cover all critical dimensions of legal, operational, technology, human factors, and reputation. Having a framework for situational awareness, crisis detection, quick-twitch rally and response, and comprehensive management - pre-choreographed and practiced - can make the critical difference in keeping your brand promise to your customers, partners, counterparties, stakeholders and employees.