Resources and capabilities go hand in hand. Your team’s capabilities prove the crucial variable to success in the field. In other words, managing one (resources) without considering the other (capabilities) is a surefire way to undermine the success of your mission.
Luckily, we’re starting to see capability management (both as a concept and function) take a surer foothold in disaster volunteer response. Teams are becoming more attune to the fact that proper capability management actually facilitates operational efficiency-more so than taking a strictly resource-based approach. Effective capability management helps organizations achieve the following:
- Identify training and credentialing gaps
- Reaffirm their processes, structures, and protocols
- Avoid cost overruns and excessive time overlays
- Better grasp areas for operational improvement
As you can imagine, those benefits are pretty central to the success of any mission. So when it’s all said and done, how do you ensure capability management success? For one, effective capability management starts with advanced capability planning. It then gets reinforced by delegation, communication, decision making, and inter-agency coordination.
Note, however, that planning isn’t simple box ticking either. When modeling capabilities at your organization (and in coordination with those of your partner agencies), don’t forget to think broadly. Consider all scenarios and logistical demands. And take a planning approach that encompasses the entirety of the emergency management lifecycle. Experts in the field have made the following stage-specific recommendations:
Here, capabilities should address evaluation, monitoring, and dissemination with the goal of mitigating emergencies from happening in the first place. As such, capabilities should be marshaled towards detecting and assessing risks and vulnerabilities. The final output will be timely and effective early warnings.
Capabilities should address planning, training, and logistic (and/or information) management with the goal of providing more accurate, earlier warnings, as well as increasing public awareness and survival education. The outputs will be early warnings and disaster education programming.
Capabilities should work to increase coordination and efficient information exchange. The outputs in this phase will be search and rescue, evacuation systems and procedures, shelters, disaster impact reports, medical care, etc.
Capabilities should address specific damages. Outputs will be temporary accommodation, capital injections, measures to strengthen existing economic enterprises, etc.
Of course, capability management is only one piece-though a big one-of successful disaster volunteer and emergency response. A lot of other factors still have to be in alignment. Those factors start with engagement with stakeholders beginning in the mitigation and preparedness stages.
Other factors include proper institutional, human, financial, and technical resources, which are the building blocks of a successful mission if mobilized easily and efficiently. Teams also need to have smart, flexible policies, rules, and regulations. And finally, effective leaders need to be at the helm making sound decisions.
The moral of the story is that your resources, especially your volunteer resources, are. best leveraged when they have a clear sense that they are contributing positively to the operation (within your organizational structure).
Any way you slice it, managing capabilities takes work and often requires sophisticated systems as well. But the benefits speak for themselves: fewer duplications, reaffirmed structures, and overall response efficiencies, all of which lead to more lives saved during the response itself. To learn more capability management success factors, download our handy guide to capability management:
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