Continuity planning for a pandemic must address six aspects of preparedness across six phases of a pandemic (as defined by the “World Health Organization).
First, critical business processes will be redefined through the lens of pandemic planning. Unlike DR/BC planning, a pandemic response assumes all normal services and capabilities are in fact available (except staffing). As such, not only are manual procedures not necessary, more effective use of automation is often an overt part of the solution.
Secondly, upstream and downstream considerations will be addressed. While DR/BC usually focuses only on the company’s internal process continuance, a pandemic will almost certainly impact both upstream and downstream components. Even if your internal planning were perfect, you must assume that your supply chain will be impacted and unless their planning is perfect too, a significant interruption will occur.
Next, the minimal staffing requirements to perform the critical functions will be identified. Most experts suggest that you must be able to perform operation of critical functions with less than 50% of your staff for a minimum period of 8 to 12 weeks. A substantial iterative analysis is typically required to identify the “right” group of critical processes and the best way to perform them given the staff limitations that can be expected.
The fourth component is communication and education for responsible sickness behavior and life safety. Each employee, as well as all management, must understand issues of symptom identification, personal hygiene, family protection, social distancing, information dissemination, hotline assistance. etc.
The fifth component is to implement a robust, flexible remote connectivity solution that will enable the maximum numbers of staff to work from home. This requires re-engineering of both the technical environment as well as the business process environment and often requires significant, proactive capital expenditures. However, remote connectivity is the single most effective way to limit the spread of the disease while continuing the business of the company.
The last component is personal and family assistance. Detailed policy statements will define what employees can expect of the company and what the company can expect of employees.
Finally, the pandemic plan will be integrated with existing emergency and business continuity programs so that they work together seamlessly.