Most organizations develop an effective means of communications that meets their needs within their system. Usually that includes a communications interface with other similar organizations and systems. But, as the number of organizations involved in a situation increases and their character becomes more diverse, the likelihood of all of them being able to communicate with each other diminishes significantly.
The key to solving these problems is communications conducted calmly before the fact, when all the parties involved can work out a plan that will meet their needs. The communications plan has to be as comprehensive as possible and yet sufficiently flexible to adapt to changes as they occur in the situation and in the capabilities of the organizations involved.
Once the communications plan is developed, it must be given the widest possible dissemination and tested for effectiveness through drills and exercises. If it does not work well then it must be either modified, or the users must be better trained and drilled, or a combination of both must occur.
It has been my experience that following most major incidents there is a need to make adjustments to standard operating procedures. Sometimes this means updating basic data or modifying actual procedures. This is why SOP's should not be buried within or threaded throughout any plan. A plan should be the basic foundation and framework. The SOP's, operation manual, or similar documents are the furnishings attached to a plan. This is why well written plans and SOP's require frequent review, exercising, and updating. Operations frequently fail or are considerably less than optimum if this is not done. SOP's are best written by people who have experience in carrying them out.
A final word to tease the semanticists. Planning is planning, right? Then what, pray tell, is pre-planning? Is this where one contemplates to plan? Why not drop the "pre" and get right to it!
---Stanly E. Harter, KH6GBX