Brush Up on Your BCPs
Business Continuity Plans or BCPs are not something you want to think about every day, but with the spread of novel Coronavirus-19 (COV-19) around the world, it’s a good time to dig yours out of your electronic filing cabinet and give it a once over.
Normally when prepping a BCP, we tend to think about major environmental disasters such as earthquakes or tornados, but a pandemic could also cause your business to be disrupted. Making sure your BCP is up-to-date and has protocols for handling epidemics could mean the difference to the survival of your business if COV-19 spreads throughout the United States.
You’ll be thankful if you spend some time in advance preparing what to do if standard public health measures are taken. For example, local cases of COV-19 are likely to cause school closures. This means parents will need to be at home: your employees, your customers, and the employees of vendors you rely on. Also, the step of closing schools will likely cause people to stay home more generally, so you can expect your business to slow down unless you are in a field that will be in greater demand, such as health care or certain medical supplies. You may have trouble getting critical supplies if cases occur where your supplies come from. Already with COV-19 we are seeing supply issues with hardware. Also, sick employees could create major issues for you, particularly if an entire department gets sick at the same time. If your staff relies on public transportation, they may not be able to get to work. Expect that at least some employees will need to work remotely, and if that is not possible due to the nature of the work, you need to consider if you need to cross train people to take over a critical function if others are out, or if you would be better off shutting that function down. In an extreme scenario, everyone may need to stay home, and servicers may not be able to come to your workplace to help you if something goes wrong.
Working up a great BCP takes time and some imagination. Do your homework on different scenarios and what is likely to happen, and then imagine how you can best respond. And don’t forget that some problems create other problems. Once you have your plan, test it. Designate someone to conduct the test and record the results. Then conduct a trial run of every step possible. Once you have the results, review them and adjust.
Considerations for your COV-19 Response Plan
Here are some elements you should consider for your COV-19 response plan:
- Ensure employees can recognize the symptoms of COV-19 and make plans for how to deal with it if they or their family become ill. This includes staying at home from work and having a plan for how to care for an ill person at home.
- Consider how many of your staff can telecommute or if you can stagger work hours. You’ll want to make sure you test having employees working remotely to ensure you do not encounter technical issues.
- If you are going to have technical issues, identify possible workarounds. For example, if staff will not be able to use their work phones at their desks, what can you do about telephone calls?
- Look at the supplies you depend on, including office and cleaning supplies, upcoming hardware purchases, even data streams you rely on each day. Are there supplies you can’t do without? Can you get alternate suppliers if necessary? How can you function without certain supplies or services? What will you do if your office cleaners cannot come at this critical time? Plan to test any alternate strategies that you can.
- Determine what will trigger the implementation of your plan.
- If you typically deal with the public, look at what can you do to increase the physical distance between your staff and the public.
- If your staff has upcoming travel plans, determine if these plans can be canceled. Also consider canceling any staff meetings, particularly ones that bring in staff from multiple locations. Practice holding video conferences.
- Plan for what you can do if the situation becomes so extreme, no one can come to work.
For more information, refer to the CDC’s guidance for business and monitor their website for updates.
Experience can really help with developing BCPs. If you have someone on staff who has dealt with a major crisis, talk to them. Or find someone who has or who has experience writing business continuity plans. We at StrataDefense have helped many of our clients finalize their BCPs and do disaster recovery testing.
Being prepared for a crisis can mean surviving and recovering quickly from a crisis rather than falling apart and failing. With COV-19 we can see the results of many years of planning for a pandemic and responding to other threats from the Spanish flu to Ebola. We can also see what happens when people don’t follow established protocols and lessons from the past. Don’t get caught unprepared. Brush up on those BCPs, and give us a call if you need help.