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Create a Reporting Strategy and Monitor Progress

Learning Objectives

 After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Complete an after-action report.
  • Utilize resources to create an after-action report.

This section provides guidance from the Resilience Toolkit Powered by Fusion for planning and developing an after-action report for your organization. The after-action report presents what’s been learned along the way, and documents actions your organization can undertake to improve their response to a crisis in the future.

Responding to the current crisis should be a learning experience for your organization. Looking closely at your response with reporting and data allows you to make sure that your organization is even more resilient in the future.

Categorize, Organize, and Share Information

Proper data gathering and preparation is the first step to creating an effective after-action report. This is where your efforts during the experiential data collection process really pay off.
A remote meeting about reporting strategy

Select a small team to own the after-action report effort and task them with reviewing all of the experiential data that has been collected. Draw specific focus to the following categories of information.

  • Plan execution findings—How well did the plans work?
  • Lessons learned—What lessons did you learn while executing the plan, such as improvements, additions, and corrections to the plan?
  • Internal and external coordination efforts—What new coordination groups were identified? What issues came up during coordination efforts that can be improved?
  • Experience as the organization’s policies and procedures were executed—What new policies were identified as needed? What new procedures were needed? And what changes or enhancements to existing policies and procedures were identified?

This team should also review any external data reports and survey data that might shed light on areas you should discuss. Identify any significant problems that surfaced, and, to the degree possible, outline any obvious improvements or changes to discuss with the larger group.

Identify the members of the group who will meet to discuss all of the findings, share their own insights, and discuss improvements. While each organization may have different members of this review group, make certain each group involved in the recovery process is represented.

Completing the After-Action Report and Next Steps

During the group review session, there are several key steps that the after-action report team should take.

  • First, in the order presented in the previous bullets, review and discuss each set of data captured with the larger group.
  • Next, share the after-action report’s initial findings, observations, and recommended actions, and discuss them as appropriate.
  • Go back through each set of data and ask for any other observations not identified in the data.
  • Capture all of the feedback by data type for review and publishing.

The team should then begin to populate the after-action report form used by the organization or choose an after-action report template (see the template provided in the resources section below). 

Once the team publishes the after-action report, the real work begins: Taking action on the report’s findings and monitoring that the changes are completed. Identify owners for each finding and set a due date for the completion of each action.

No crisis response is perfect, and when you identify changes and improvements to make, you can avoid making the same mistakes and tripping over the same hurdles the next time your organization’s resilience is tested.