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Pandemic and Business Continuity – Plan to Outline Organization Functioning During and After Pandemic

Organizations worldwide have been reacting to the recent pandemic outbreak COVID-19, in a number of ways, from restricting non-essential workplace travel to canceling big events.   All organizations need a business continuity plan to keep moving in this pandemic arena.  An ideal business continuity plan outlines how a company can continue to function during and after the pandemic.  It includes planning about how the key services or products will be continued.  Some employees will be incapacitated by the pandemic and other employees being quarantined.  This could lead to a major disruption to normal operations, with potentially large numbers of employees working from home or remote locations.

Planning for pandemic risk management need to be done as the situation is not improving, and below are a few steps for pandemic preparedness;

Management Support & Commitment

Management support and engagement is the key to the success of every project.  The corporate leaders, through their actions, communications, priority setting, and direction, need to instill the importance of pandemic business continuity planning throughout the corporation.  This will include direct contact and education on the topic.

Manning Critical Services/Functions

The objective of the Business Continuity planning process is to determine how an organization will maintain critical services/functions in the event of significant staff absenteeism.   The negative outcomes of not manning critical services are as follows

  • Creates an impact on the health and safety of individuals
  • Failure of a business unit if activities are not performed in a specified time period

Complying with Regulatory Requirements & Service Level Agreements

There used to be critical services/functions that need to be performed to meet regulatory requirements and/or fulfill the service level agreements with third parties.  In order to perform these types of services/functions in case of a pandemic outbreak, it is important to review requirements from a legal and regulatory point of view and if there are legal/regulatory boundaries to consider them including into the Action Plan.  Further, each office locations need to follow the guidelines of local authorities to avoid other operational risks.

Right Allocation of Resources

Identifying the right human resources and allocating mandatory duties that are required to perform and maintain the essential services/ functions is important.  This information will be vital if resources need to be reallocated within the business unit or across the Corporation.

Action Plan

Compiling all the essential points as mentioned above, and preparing an Action Plan for maintaining critical services/functions is important. It will ensure that all issues will be addressed such as the decisionmaking process/authority for implementing service reduction.

Implementation and Documentation

Documentation of decisions and activities for increasing critical service/function is the last phase in the implementation of a business continuity strategy.

This step should be taken once you have the following:

  • Identified critical services/functions
  • Identified any related issues/impacts that can occur when the standard of service/function is modified
  • Identified action plans for critical services/functions

Reviewing, Testing and Update

Once the Business Continuity Plan is completed, you will need to circulate the plans for information and training plans within your organization.  As for any other plans, the Business Continuity Program would include periodical evaluation for the required updates.  Conducting an emergency exercise to check the program will help the employees understand the Business Continuity Strategy – why it is triggered, who is accountable for what, and how it fits with your corporate strategy to deal with a pandemic outbreak.