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Incident Response Planning Your Key to Managing in Crisis

Editor’s Note: During this crisis, The Cooperator family of publications will be passing along information, tips, and FAQs submitted by our network of industry professionals, including attorneys, managers, and other subject matter experts. The views and opinions expressed are those of the contributors, and as the situation evolves in the coming days and weeks, those views and opinions may evolve as well. We encourage readers to be mindful of this; check posting dates, make note of contributors’ locations and industries, and above all, consult with your own community professionals as you and your neighbors navigate this challenging landscape.

Hurricanes, construction fires, cyber-attacks, catastrophic flooding, and wildfires are just some of the many threats our industry faces on a daily basis. Given this unpredictable and volatile risk landscape, multifamily management firms must be proactive in readying their communities to handle and navigate any and all crises that might come their way.To manage risk effectively is to embed risk mitigation strategies across the enterprise—and that begins with the C-Suite. Whether it’s a cyber breach, impending wildfire or even a rare infectious disease outbreak, clear-minded, well-orchestrated decision making is key. 

To ensure effective incident management, firms should start by creating a Crisis Team comprised of senior executives charged with developing the plan and carrying it out. This type of plan should be flexible and actionable, regardless of whether the management firm is facing a potential outbreak like COVID-19, or staring down a catastrophic hurricane. Team members should include personnel from the corporate suite, risk management, human resources, legal, information technology, and operations. And team members should have decision-making and spending authority.

 Download a Printable Version of this Incident Response Plan.

Write a Plan

Having a written plan in place will help organize and streamline the incident response process. The incident response players must have clarity on roles, responsibilities and authority during an incident. Without clear instructions and authorizations in place, personnel will respond inconsistently, which can be especially damaging to an organization’s brand and can also create legal or regulatory risks. Similarly, without clearly identified procedures, organizations run the risk of departments duplicating efforts, wasting both time and resources. A written plan will help to provide structure, clarity and organization around the incident response process. The time to develop an incident response plan is not after your community is impacted directly.

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