As Rahm Emanuel once said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” If your business is required, due to regulations or contracts, to maintain a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and test it regularly, the coronavirus pandemic is an excellent opportunity to hit two birds with one stone. Pull out that BCP and dust it off, it’s time to make some updates.
Step 1: Update your BCP to include a Pandemic Response section
If you do not have a protocol or specific section related to pandemic response, there is an excellent and freely available 3-page Pandemic Response Planning Policy provided by the prestigious SANS Institute. This document walks you through, with just the right amount of specificity, what your business needs to grapple with and consider while performing a BCP Test and while documenting your company’s response to a pandemic in your BCP.
Step 2: Nominate someone to fill out this section by analyzing your real-world actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Capture the meeting minutes, emails, and contemporaneous accounts about what your business was doing to prepare and respond to the emerging events; use these to create a unique pandemic response plan specific to your business. Inform your staff to save copies of all pandemic related correspondence and meetings, creating a 2nd copy that has any sensitive or confidential information removed. Each day, have everyone involved in the pandemic response review their files and communications and send the sanitized versions to the designated individual. At the end of each week, the designated person should release a summary of all observations to company stakeholders.
Step 3: Record as a BCP Test or “tabletop exercise” any preliminary planning meetings related to your company’s pandemic response
Credit where credit is due! Note the date and results of any drills or exercises related to pandemic planning. Update the review date of your BCP to show that you’ve revised it. Record the agenda of these exercises as your “BCP Test Plan."
Step 4: Notify company stakeholders of the progress made on your BCP
Give the individual responsible for updating the plan about 1-2 weeks to fully complete the following tasks and submit to company stakeholders the following deliverables:
- Updated BCP with special attention paid to the company’s pandemic response
- Documented BCP test plan with pandemic response tabletop exercises
- List of recommendations about process improvements or lessons learned
No one welcomes this pandemic and the disruption and loss that it has caused. However, it does represent an opportunity to reinforce or create a robust and well-maintained Business Continuity Plan that includes regular testing. We encourage all businesses to spend some time during this crisis to improve your core planning and crisis response documents. Please contact us if you would like to improve your ability to respond to a crisis or disaster.