Innovating Crisis Management Training with Digital Tools – a Preliminary Report from a R&D Project
Magnusson Monika1, Geir Ove Venemyr2, Peter Bellström1, Bjørn Tallak Bakken2
1Karlstad Business School, Karlstad University, Sweden. 2Handelshøgskolen Innlandet, Høgskolen i Innlandet,, Norway

Abstract

Introduction:  The ongoing digitalization enables innovation in private as well as public organizations. A field that is still in its infancy is digitalization of crisis management training. A safe society demands frequent and efficient crisis management training. However, traditional time-and-space-dependent training methods are highly time- and resource-demanding to plan and execute due to the need for multi-actor involvement. In this paper we report on an R&D project aiming at developing new IT tools for crisis management training. The purpose of the paper is to describe and analyze both the innovative potential and the organizational effects of implementing digital tools for crisis management training, in terms of organizational changes. The following research questions are studied:

  • How can IT support and innovate the entire process from training need analysis, to execution of exercises, evaluation and “transfer of training”?
  • What changes are required in crisis training methods and accompanying business processes?

Methods: A design science research (DSR) approach is applied. The theoretical grounding includes research on diffusion of innovations, technology adoption and crisis training methods. The empirical grounding involves recurrent workshops as well as in-depth interviews with cross sector stakeholders. Business process models are used to illustrate ‘as-is’ as well as ‘to-be’ situations.

Results: Crisis management training is often planned from “scratch” in the studied organizations, using only regular office software for support. The respondents believe that new IT tools can facilitate inter-organizational collaboration and reuse of exercises, as well as create richer data for the trainers. Also, digital tools could enable more frequent, innovative and distributed training/exercises for the trainees.

From the identified user needs, three IT tools are being developed in the project:

  • A training process management tool
  • A crisis training tool for individual training
  • A crisis training tool for collaborative exercises

Conclusion: Our preliminary results indicate that the here proposed tools may innovate the area of crisis management training in several ways. First, the training process management tool enables exercise planners to simplify and reduce the workload for personnel involved in (repeating) training- and exercise planning. The process management tool guides the planners through the whole process, from a training need analysis, goal setting, exercise planning, -execution and –evaluation. This work is stored for re-use and function as a mark-stone for further training and exercises. Second, the training tools offer individual and collaborative training sessions that are distributed, synchronous and asynchronous. This innovate current training practices by enabling training regardless of time and place, and in smaller modules, thereby facilitating more frequent training. Also, using the tools makes it possible to systematize follow-up and feedback since data are already saved in the tools. This facilitate evaluation and transfer of training into improved crisis preparedness. Methods and processes for planning, executing and following-up crisis training, need to be adjusted to fully take advantage of the innovative capability in digitalization.