The Coronavirus has not officially reached global pandemic status, but organizations should nevertheless be prepared for the threat. In fact, experts say that pandemic preparedness is a good business practice that should be part of every business continuity plan.
It can be easy for organizations to disregard the virus until it hits their region. However, organizations may rely on business partners and contractors who are suddenly subject to quarantine. There doesn’t have to be a major increase in the outbreak — if just one person presents with symptoms, other workers who have been in contact with that person could also be quarantined for 14 days.
Even a regional outbreak can have a serious impact on today’s global supply chains. Businesses in Asia-Pacific have reported supply chain disruptions due to constraints on travel and shipments from China.
The Business Continuity Plan
What does pandemic preparedness have to do with business continuity planning? A business continuity plan should include all the information and procedures needed to minimize operational disruption in a disaster. It should address all aspects of the business — including human resources. If key personnel are unable to come to work or do their jobs, how will your business function?
A business impact analysis is an important part of business continuity planning. In the context of pandemic preparedness, organizations should determine the potential impact of a pandemic using multiple possible scenarios that affect different products, services and/or functions. The risk is particularly acute for IT operations. Many IT teams are already stretched thin and may not have the resources or duplicative skill sets needed to ensure business continuity in a pandemic.
Preparing for Pandemic
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed guidelines to assist organizations in planning for pandemic and other public health emergencies. Among their suggestions:
Establish policies. Consider flexible scheduling, including telecommuting and staggered shifts. Restrict travel to affected geographic areas. Establish policies for employee compensation and sick-leave absences unique to a pandemic. Select one or more pandemic coordinators for each site and establish an emergency communications plan.
Implement procedures. Identify essential employees with defined roles and tasks required to maintain business operations. Prepare an ancillary workforce and/or partner with a third-party outsourcing provider. Modify the frequency and type of face-to-face contact.
Communicate and educate. Disseminate information about preparedness and planning to dispel fear, anxiety, rumors and misinformation. Identify community sources for accurate information and ensure availability of medical consultation and advice.
Coordinate with external organizations. Maintain communication with vendors and supply chain partners. Collaborate with insurers, public health agencies and healthcare facilities to understand their capabilities and plans.
How Rahi Can Help
The experts at Rahi Systems can help you develop a business continuity plan that addresses pandemic and other personnel-related risks as well as threats to the IT infrastructure. In addition, our offices worldwide are staffed with Rahi personnel who work in concert to deliver IT solutions and services globally.
We can help ensure continuity of support through our network operations centers. We also have warehouse facilities around the world, and procurement and logistics teams who are adept at obtaining equipment and coordinating delivery anywhere in the world. These capabilities can help keep IT projects on track and ensure the availability of replacement components.
Coronavirus may never become a global pandemic, but the outbreak serves as an important reminder of the need for preparedness. Now’s the time to update your business continuity plan to include policies and procedures related to personnel disruptions.