With the outbreak of the coronavirus, organizations that have incorporated pandemic planning into their business continuity management (BCM) program are prepared to stay resilient. The companies who have not considered pandemic planning in their BCM program should be concerned. An outbreak of this potential proportion could cost a company severe financial hardship, a loss of workforce, or the company could go under completely.
The BCM planning process takes an end to end approach in identifying and recording all the resources needed to sustain critical functions and processes for the entity. This is often referred to as a business’s resiliency. If a company follows the steps in the plan, they enable ongoing operations before, during, and after a disaster strikes. Pandemic Planning is a part of the overall BCM plan that is commonly overlooked or ignored. The issue is that planning for a pandemic poses a unique set of challenges that differ from those of a natural disaster like a blizzard or a power outage.
Example: If Location A is closed, employees will report to Location B. This works great if the closure is because of a power outage, or a flood. However, if Location A is closed because of a virus outbreak, will it be appropriate to send those employees to location B? No.
Therefore, pandemic planning should be a specific part of a BCM plan and should include the following areas:
- Identification of triggering events
- Migrating controls such as remote access
- Documentation of preventive measures including coordination with outside parties
- Documentation of a specific strategy, including employee protection strategies
- A comprehensive framework of facilities, systems, and/or procedures
- A testing program to evaluate your resiliency
- A pandemic coordinator/team to provide oversight, to ensure ongoing reviews, and updates are maintained
If you already have a business continuity management plan, make sure it includes a specific section on Pandemic Planning. If you have a specific pandemic plan, review the strategies and make sure they apply and are current.
If you do not have a pandemic plan in your BCM plan, start the conversation with your team and use the list above as a quick guide. It’s never too late to ensure the safety of your employees and the resilience of your company.
Resources: For more information on the coronavirus, go to World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.