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Integrating Business Continuity and Pandemic Planning

July 15, 2020

Pandemic plans are no longer a luxury.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged businesses in ways that were previously unimaginable. Companies have been forced to modify short- and long-term business goals. This has been achieved by shifting business priorities, and evaluating both supplier and customer relationships. Operationally, organizations have needed to ramp up and ramp down modified work processes and associated controls to account for periods of higher and lower health risks.

Developing a formal pandemic plan will provide organizations the ability to more efficiently navigate the different stages of an extended pandemic event, as well to help ensure its continued business success. Accordingly, formal pandemic plans should be considered an essential element to any organization’s risk management efforts. Proactive and strategic organizations will utilize their pandemic planning efforts as a distinct competitive advantage.

View our most recent article: Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System and Pandemic Waves Planning

A formal pandemic plan will:

Be required by customers and lending institutions as a condition of doing business.

  • Help ensure an organization’s long-term sustainability
  • Increase employee and customer confidence
  • Be required or strongly recommended by insurance underwriters/carriers

Pandemics are very distinct and different from more traditional types of disasters. Much can be leveraged from existing emergency response and business continuity planning (BCP) efforts. BCP components that can be leveraged to expedite the pandemic planning process include:

  • Flexible, yet predetermined recovery strategies based on senior leadership approved business needs and priorities. This
    information will help determine which company functions must be restored first and which ones can be delayed. A BCP
    will help identify onsite and remote work priorities.
  • Department/functional level recovery procedures
  • Incident Management Plan (IMP) structure, team leaders, defined roles and responsibilities, as well as streamlined and efficient information sharing.

Existing business continuity plans and organizational resiliency will also benefit from the development of a formal BCP.

Pandemic plan elements can enhance existing BCPs and increase organizational resiliency with:

  • Enhanced remote work capabilities and testing
  • Validation and/or revision of business priorities and strategies
  • Development of emergency policies and procedures
  • Integrating Business Continuity and pandemic plans will result in an exponential benefit to any organization

A formal pandemic plan should consider/include:

The full duration and impact of a pandemic event Predetermined plan activation triggers based on local conditions Enhanced remote work capabilities
Documented emergency policies and procedures Consideration for increased/decreased infection rates and periods of relative “normalcy” Determination of core on-site and remote business priorities
Revised on-site operations incorporating enhanced cleaning and hygiene procedures Vendor and supplier collaboration Clear communication planning and delivery

As referenced above, a key planning consideration is the development of plan triggers based on local infection rates and conditions. Ohio companies are currently at a distinct planning advantage due to the July 2, 2020 release of the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. This system provides objective criteria to help companies determine local alert levels and associated plan actions.

Oswald has decades of risk management and pandemic planning experience and is available to assist companies in the development of a document pandemic plan. Our strategic consultation includes the development of:

  • Short- and long-term business priorities and strategies for each pandemic stage
  • Emergency policies and procedures
  • Work process reviews and modifications to limit the spread of disease in the workplace
  • Clear plan activation criteria based on current and expected conditions
  • Employee training
  • Organizational decision-making process and protocols
  • Event management and communication plans
  • Vendor and supplier preparedness

Should you have any questions or needs relative to planning for impacts of COVID-19, please contact me directly or learn more on our COVID-19 Resource Center.

Jim Hedrick
Director Risk Management & Client Experience


Note: This communication is for informational purposes only. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, Oswald makes no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held liable for any outdated or incorrect information. View our communications policy.