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Crisis Management Budget

Crisis Management Budget

Your budget is due! What do you do? If you manage operations, EHS, security or crisis management, you know you need a crisis management budget. Corporate communications also needs a crisis management budget, but you may call it crisis communications. Oh sure, you’re also budgeting for other stuff, but this is different. If you don’t budget for crisis management, you’re leaving your future to chance. Clearly, you need to regularly update and test your plans. You also need to train your people and ensure stakeholders are happy with your responses.

crisis management budget

The question is how you do this when there’s so much already on your plate. You’re being pulled in a dozen different directions and haven’t been able to do all that’s needed. Worse yet, you need reliable numbers for activities you may only touch every year or two. What if you don’t know what to do or how to do it? Nonetheless, you must figure it out and prepare. You’re the functional expert and failure is not an option. The stakes are simply too high to ignore this, but who has the time.

Budget Imperative

The business world is driven by priorities and urgency. Yet, the possibility of a future crisis may not be urgent enough to be a priority. Fortunately, the annual budget process provides the sense of urgency we need. Since there will likely be some sort of crisis next year, companies need to ensure they have resources for the possibility. So, use the budget as a way to ensure you prepare.

Of course, you will need to budget for ongoing work and programs. For these items, past expenses can provide helpful guidance, even in zero-based budgeting. The problem comes with sporadic items. If you haven’t updated, trained or practiced your crisis plan in years, you’re already behind the curve. This frightening situation only gets worse if you don’t have time to work through the numbers and strategy.

crisis management budget

In most situations, crisis drills and plan updates should be conducted annually. If you haven’t prepared and trained, correct this lapse as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could be caught flat-footed in a major crisis. The simplest solution is to include a crisis management budget in your overall budget request. Budget planning season is the time to ensure you are protected against risks that could seriously damage your company.

Crisis Management Budget Needs

This is the annual opportunity to ensure crisis preparedness through your crisis management budget. Start by recognizing that you need to budget for review and update of your crisis plan. Then, outline a budget to train your employees and conduct exercises or drills. This will help you test your program and employees’ abilities. Depending on your situation this can be elaborate or basic. Now you need to provide reliable cost estimates for your budget.

Unfortunately, this hits right when the summer vacations end and children return to school. Concurrently, management is gearing up for a host of major activities in the fall. So, budget preparation is often an afterthought in a world with more to do than time to do it. However, if you hope to have an effective crisis management, training or communication program, don’t miss this opportunity.

So how do you get reliable numbers? It’s hard to budget if you haven’t decided between vendors or whether it would be more efficient to handle this in-house. Nevertheless, there’s a safe solution that will restore sanity to your life and ensure you can make your budget submission work. Having come from the corporate side, we’re going to share this solution despite it causing us more work. Of course, we get our income from work, so we see the beneficial connection.

Crisis management budget

The Budgeting Solution – Ask Consultants

Identify one or two consultants that can do the work you need. For crisis management, this could be a crisis management firm, but if they don’t have integrated communications capabilities, you may need to broaden the outreach. You could use other firms for other specialties, but today we are focused on your crisis management budget. Simply contact them to confirm their relevance and let them know you are planning for next year’s crisis management budget. Then ask them for a budget proposal to provide the necessary work for you.

This should lead to some discussion of your plan elements, as well as training, drill and exercise needs. If you want a stripped-down, fundamental program they should be able to give you an estimate for its parts. For instance, they could say a table top drill for 10 people with a post drill critique will cost $X, while an onsite exercise will be $XX to $XXX. However, if you have significant exposure and gaps in your ability to respond, you may want a signed NDA so you can share details. Paying a modest fee for a more in-depth assessment and the proposal may yield a more comprehensive program later.

If the consultant agrees, you will have the information you need. Conversely, you will be aware that there are limits to what you can expect from them if the consultant declines. Of course, receiving more than one proposal will teach you more about the range of options and capabilities. You can then decide to select one or possibly combine their proposals. Whatever approach you take, the proposal(s) you receive from the consultant(s) should give you the information you need to submit your crisis management budget.


Of course, you could decide to handle the work next year with your own people. If that costs less than the consultant’s proposal, you can feel satisfied that you are saving the company money. Even if you expect to handle this in-house, you should consider initiating vendor approval for the consultants. Here’s why:

  • It recognizes the service they provided.
  • Vendor approval can be a lengthy process and someday you may need help without delay.
  • If you do decide to work with them next year, you can start planning now.
  • If you start now, you’ll have a program waiting for you next year.
  • Tell the consultant about your plans, before they go through vendor approval. Since some companies’ vendor approval requirements can be costly, this will reduce misunderstandings. The consultant may be willing to take the risk but should be given the opportunity to objectively weigh the cost-benefit.

With this approach, a consultant will have an opportunity to build a relationship with your company and you will have more accurate budget plans. This doesn’t always work, but if you are honest and transparent with the consultant, it’s a solution for you and an opportunity for them.

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