Unlike a natural disaster with immediate effects that tend to last a few days, a virus pandemic can cause disruptions for weeks and months. This extended period makes short-term planning difficult and reinforces the importance of building adaptability into existing business continuity plans.
During a pandemic the foremost concern is the safety of people at your locations, your partners and your customers. Most businesses will feel the impact of an extended disruption through declining revenues, increased expenses in keeping facilities and locations as clean as possible, or having to deal with higher priced vendors to make commitments etc. While these effects may be temporary, there must be advanced planning in case of a pandemic. Most organizations have not prepared for this
For those that need to have critical services running and your business continuity plans are out of date, Maclear has put together a quick checklist of actions to take to minimize downtime while ensuring the safety of your human resources.
- Communications from executive teams:
- The communication from the executive teams must be consistent – what is being said internally should reflect what is being said publicly regarding the status, what is being planned and where to get more information
- Services that are considered essential should be maintained – if your organization provides life supporting services, executive management must provide the necessary communication all around that services will be continued, maybe in a reduced capacity
- Business Functional Groups:
Business function leaders must understand which services are essential and must identify the bare minimum of teams to provide these services. The pandemic plan should leverage information from a non-pandemic plan that identifies the resources in terms of human capital, systems, facilities and vendors and/or partners that can continue to provide these services. Plans should also identify cross-trained teams that can continue providing these essential services should the pandemic extended for several weeks.
- IT/Security teams and Finance Teams:
IT teams and finance teams become critical to maintain essential business processes. If teams must work from home, do they have the necessary equipment to be able to connect to systems (in the cloud or on premise)? This is probably the time that serious considerations in becoming cloud centric may have great benefits.
Finance and payroll must evaluate the financial implications of staffing decisions. Decisions of paying staff for long term disruptions should be part of your pandemic plan. If staff is let go, there is also a cost from unemployment insurance claims that may follow.
- Vendors and Partners:
Having built relationships with key vendors and working in partnership will pay dividends during an extended outage. Third party vendors will usually work with key customers in extending discounts or extended payment terms. On the flip side, your essential vendors may have financial difficulties that may allow you to extend credit or work on favorable contractual terms. During a pandemic where we are all in this together, having strong partnerships and relationships may be the difference in surviving or not.
Finally, most companies don’t visit their insurance requirements and ensuring there are clauses for pandemic and extended force majeure outages. It is critical to understand what insurance you are paying for and what your liabilities are so you can make