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What Can Be Learned During a Pandemic: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Risk Advisory

April 9, 2020

Now that we are in the midst of a pandemic, many organizations are starting to wonder how we arrived at this point. While a pandemic is a slow moving event when compared to more traditional disasters such as tornadoes, fires, and earthquakes, the last month seems like a blur. Most organizations did not have a well thought out Pandemic Preparedness Plan. Accordingly, many of the actions taken were made without a tremendous amount of formal methodology, forethought or planning. Most don’t know what to expect, or how to respond to the evolving needs as they work through the pandemic.

Fortunately, due to the “slower pace” of COVID-19, many of the decisions organizations have made were the right ones for their given situation. We are now at somewhat of a steady state as compared to the last thirty days. Organizations are encouraged to take advantage of where we are today. Through an evaluation of the decisions that have been made and the conditions that dictated them, organizations are in a great position to learn from the recent past and plan for the coming months. Taking stock of what has been learned and being critical of the decisions that have been made will put organizations in the best possible position to accelerate their recovery efforts. Organizations that take the time to do this will have a distinct competitive advantage.

What Should Organizations Be Doing Now?

Evaluating past decisions, the conditions that prompted them and the actions taken will allow organizations the ability to determine the most efficient manner to return to a pre-COVID-19 status. It is also likely that many of the conditions that existed during the COVID-19 “ramp-up” period will be experienced again during future waves of the pandemic.

Questions Companies Should Be Asking Themselves

1. What prompted our actions and decisions to this point of the pandemic?

To answer this question organizations, need to document the what and the why for each action taken. The table below provides a high-level framework to help guide organizations through this process. It is best to utilize this framework for each action taken to combat the impact of COVID-19.

2. Did we keep good records on what and when decisions were made?

If a company has not documented the timeline of previously made decisions, by stage of event, it is very hard to look back and evaluate them. There is tremendous value in documenting the conditions that were present and conditions that dictated action to be taken.

  • Were decisions made voluntarily or involuntary (stay at home orders)?
    • For voluntary actions/decisions – What conditions triggered them?
    • For involuntary actions/decisions – Did you anticipate they would occur? If not, when looking back can you determine the conditions triggered by them?
  • Were the correct decisions made?
    • In hindsight, would you have made a different decision or altered its timing? If so, talk through and make plans to respond differently should any additional pandemic waves occur.
    • Evaluating all decisions made will also help organizations determine how best to de-escalate from our current state.
  • What information sources were used to support the decision-making process?
    • Were information sources accurate, timely and reliable?
    • How was information utilized in the decision making process?
    • Have better information sources emerged?
  • What can we do to prepare for returning to a pre-COVID-19 operating model?
    • While there is no way to know for sure what the coming months will bring, determining the answers to questions above will assist an organization to make assumptions about conditions that will need to be present to begin the COVID-19 de-escalation process. Undoubtedly, the return to pre-COVID-19 operating conditions will not occur overnight. It will occur in stages, much like the ramp up to our current state.

By using the previously referenced “Action Level – Action Taken” planning approach an organization can use their very recent experience with COVID-19 to thoroughly think through and plan for efficient de-escalation and a return to state of normalcy. De-escalation stages will likely be determined by a combination of the following conditions: lifting of stay at home orders, employee availability, development of antiviral medications & vaccines, supply availability, customer demand and economic conditions.  Planning assumptions can be created using these factors to develop anticipated de-escalation stages and associated actions.

The most significant challenge in planning for the next event stage is that critical operations, suppliers and customers will need to be reevaluated as they are potentially different than during pre COVID-19 conditions. Taking the time to think through different scenarios and potential actions that could be taken will help to ensure the most positive potential outcome possible.

Should you have any questions or needs relative to planning for the potential impact of COVID-19, please contact us direct.

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.