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Scaling the Incident Command System to Other Business Needs

November 14, 2013 - Kestrel Management

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a nationally recognized process of leadership and management of incident response for all emergency response situations. Beyond emergency management, the Incident Command System also provides an effective organization structure for efficiently managing internal projects and events, such as merger and acquisition integration and operational expansion.

Applying ICS to Acquisition Integration

Let’s take acquisition integration as an example. Acquisitions are complex and impact every aspect of the business—financial, human resources, operations, logistics, marketing, risk management.

The pre-acquisition phase includes a large amount of due diligence and analysis to ensure that that acquisition candidate is a good fit. This includes reviewing environmental liabilities and compliance, financial statements, cost structure and claims, customer relationships, intellectual property, equipment, cultural compatibility, staff/management team, and quality and risk management processes. This pre-acquisition due diligence is critical to a successful acquisition.

Just as critical, however, is the post-acquisition integration work that must be done. Post-acquisition integration must be actively planned, managed, and guided. The Incident Command System creates a framework for doing just that.

Post-acquisition integration is the time to harvest the opportunities and benefits that stem from the acquisition. Many organizations create a plan for integration, but that plan is often static and not updated to reflect the ongoing integration needs.

By definition, the Incident Command System is not a static process. The Incident Command System is all about:

  • Clear definition of roles, responsibilities, and functions
  • The ongoing planning and re-planning process

Both are critical components of an integration plan and an acquisition’s overall success.

Active Management

Under the Incident Command System, one of the first steps in the integration process is to appoint an Incident Commander (i.e., integration manager), who is charged with actively managing the integration. This individual is not necessarily the person who “signs the deal,” but rather an individual who understands all facets of the integration and can bring departments and individuals together to create a smooth transition.

The Incident Management Team (i.e., integration team) is appointed and has clearly defined responsibilities under the Incident Command System framework to carry out in support of the acquisition. Team members may include individuals from the following departments:

  • Human resources
  • Logistics
  • Finance
  • Risk management
  • Operations
  • Communications

Dynamic Plan

As in an emergency response situation, the Incident Management Team develops an Incident Action Plan (integration plan) for a certain operational period that clearly defines objectives and actions to be taken. At the end of the operational period, the team creates a briefing summary report to track what has been accomplished and what needs to be updated in the plan for the next operational period. This is an ongoing cycle that continues throughout the integration period, which can last from several weeks to several years, depending on the magnitude of the acquisition. Following the Incident Command System approach adds ongoing life and dynamism to the integration process and helps ensure its ongoing success.

It is this active management, ongoing review, and continual updating that makes the Incident Command System such an effective tool for managing both incidents and internal projects.

Your Business Continuity & Incident Command System (ICS) Resource

Kestrel’s core team comprises senior consultants with extensive EHS, quality management, operational risk management, and emergency response experience. We add to that expertise an industry leader with hands-on experience developing and establishing the Incident Command System, serving as an Incident Commander, and instructing the complete Incident Command System training coursework.

Our team can help you develop the systems and plans you need to effectively manage your business risks–no matter the size or complexity. For more information, contact us at 608-226-0531.

Submitted by: Tom Kunes

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