COVID-19: Top 10 ways to prepare for a pandemic
Business Chief USA, details Gartner’s Top 10 ways organisations can prepare for a pandemic, via effective operational risk management.
As the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop, many businesses are left uncertain as to whether their risk mitigation plan is sufficient.
In a recent webinar conducted by the research and advisory firm just 12% of 1,500 people believe that their business is highly prepared for the impact of COVID-19, while 56% believed themselves to be somewhat prepared, and 11% believed themselves to be very unprepared.
“Most organizations have done some pandemic planning but still have many unanswered questions about whether they have done everything they can to manage risks,” says Jim Mello, Senior Director, Advisory, Gartner.
Establish a preparedness framework
Establish a team that represents all critical business functions. These people will report directly to executive management and are responsible for prioritising the importance of business activities and organise them in tiers for response and recovery.
Monitor the situation
It is important to ensure that organisations monitor the rate in which the infection is spreading and its severity. Many rely on the World Health Organisation for information.
Be sure to revise revenue forecasts and communicate with investors, as well as suppliers in regards to any potential finance issues. It is important to ensure that the business has the working capital to ride it out.
Ways to ensure this include: working capital checks, seeking loans or government-sponsored financial relief.
Extend personal hygiene and cleaning protocols
It is important to comply with any changes to workplace regulations. In addition it is important to establish protocols for staff returning from infected areas, as well as extending existing hygiene activities.
Ensure close monitoring of absenteeism rates for signs of problems. It is important to identify critical staff in order to make sure the company can continue to function in their absence, and be prepared for up to 40% absentee rates.
In addition to reviewing HR policies and procedures it is important to maintain a level of sensitivity when it comes to engaging with employees and workplace preferences.
Establish communication program
People can feel out of the loop quickly. Establish a spokesperson appropriate for the situation who can maintain lines of communication. In addition, organisations should establish pre-approved messages and scripts for various stakeholders.
Review impact on operation
Although this may seem overwhelming, the team established to represent all critical business functions should identify key areas to consider. It is important to maintain a connection with the reality on the ground in countries affected.
Key questions to consider: is transport functioning? Have holidays been extended? Where can operation continue and where do they need to stop?
IT business functions tend to be relatively well-prepared for business continuity, however it is important to assess the supply chain for critical equipment and keep extra inventory if required.
In addition, organisations should keep in mind remote data center management and cloud options for critical systems as well as enabling remote working programs and rescheduling any non-essential IT work prioritising key applications.
Review pandemic plans to identify any gaps in response
Conduct a preparedness exercise by validating roles and responsibilities as well as recovery requirements and procedures, in order to identify any gaps in the recover capabilities and resource needs.
Following the establishment of a pandemic plan, identify three lessons learned, key observations or improvements for the exercise. After establishing these organisations should priorities the short and long term follow up actions.
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