Every day, we help our clients manage risk and protect value, and even through the current COVID-19 situation, we’re not stopping.
Now, more than ever, they rely on us and we want to help them respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic and get through the tough times ahead – irrespective of their business continuity management maturity.
There is lots of work to do and it’s important you do not forget anything.
Here is our COVID19 Pandemic Response Checklist to help breakdown some important strategies and provide some tips using our extensive experience in pandemic planning, emergency management and crisis management to help you effectively respond to COVID-19.
1. Establish a formal pandemic response team
This situation is not “business as usual”.
A specific incident response team is needed covering key elements and stages of the pandemic response. A response team should consist of several leading experts who would represent your company. At minimum, your response team should comprise of a response team leader and 5 functions covering:
- Information technology
- Service continuity
- Management support
The structure and functions will vary depending on each organisation. Well prepared organisations can modify existing crisis management team structures to adjust to a pandemic specific response.
For a copy of a sample Response Team Structure, download our Responding to COVID-19 presentation.
2. Readiness assessment
How crisis ready is your organisation?
This is one of the first items on the agenda for the pandemic response team. The readiness assessment should consider 2 things – the level of vulnerability of your organisation and level of preparedness.
To assess your vulnerability, consider:
- The number of critical activities you have
- The level of dependency on people
- The level of demand for your products and services during a pandemic – some may increase
- Supply chain readiness and vulnerability
- Your stakeholder expectations during a pandemic
- Consequences of a failed or delayed response
To assess your level of preparedness, consider:
- Existence of a documented crisis management plan, business continuity plan or pandemic subplan to guide the response team
- The confidence and capability of the response team – this is enhanced by regular crisis management exercises and regular refresher training
- Effectiveness of preventative controls & response strategies during a pandemic
- Completeness and quality of a whole of business risk, impact and readiness assessment
- Adequacy of your alternate arrangements e.g. work from home
- Maturity of your communication capabilities
Download our Responding to COVID-19 presentation to assess your preparedness using our Readiness Assessment Matrix.
3. Know the risks
In a pandemic, there are essentially 6 key risks you need to manage. Depending on your services and industry, there may be more.
- Unavailability of staff to perform critical services
- Extended disruption to critical services
- Increased demand for services
- Supply chain disruptions to material, labour, logistics
- Adverse financial impact. Conduct stress-testing on your financial readiness
- Civil unrest, undue panic and theft
For each risk identified, you should identify the causes, consequences and actions to mitigate the risks.
Plan for a number of possible disruption scenarios that include:
- Intermittent service disruptions
- Major lock down
- Quick recovery
- Economic slowdown
- Economic recession
4. Focus on your people
In a pandemic, the safety and welfare of your staff is critical.
- Review your HR policies to ensure they adress issues that arise in a pandemic.
- Make sure your staff are fully educated about COVID-19, from symptoms to personal safety and hygiene guidelines.
- Communicate to all staff regularly about the organisations response and response status.
- Provide opportunities to raise issues and respond quickly to staff questions or issues raised.
- Identify staff at higher risk.
- Establish processes that allow staff to continue to function without endangering them.
- Isolate staff that threaten further spread of the virus.
- Determine your minimum staffing requirements to support critical activities.
- Allow staff to work from home.
5. The pandemic plan
The pandemic plan is scenario specific.
The pandemic plan solves the problem of “what do we need to do to continue to provide critical services when a large number of our staff are absent for an extended period of time”?
The pandemic plan should follow the 4 stages of Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery (PPRR) in line with best practice and similar World Health Organisation (WHO) and government pandemic response plans. Each stage has defined objectives and activities.
- Prevention Stage: Identify the pandemic risks and take steps to minimise the risk and impact of a pandemic. Draft a pandemic plan, identify the response team and clarify responsibilities. Monitor the pandemic situation.
- Preparedness Stage: Put the response team on alert now. Review the pandemic plan. Start to prepare the organisation for a pandemic response. Review internal policies, start stockpiling supplies, check in with your suppliers and test remote working capabilities.
- Response Stage: Now it’s real and its getting uncomfortable. Implement your pandemic response plan. Start taking steps to mitigate the impact of a pandemic on the organisation. Communicate to your stakeholders. Maintain situation awareness. Monitor the situation. Look forward and continue to reassess your response daily.
- Recovery Stage: After containment, it’s about getting back to normal. This is the process of reactivating dormant sectors of the organisation until normal operation is achieved.
Given the interdependencies of many organisations on local and international supply chains, the pandemic plan should identify single points of failure and also consider the knock on impacts on:
- down stream supplier dependency – for inputs into our products and services
- upstream customer dependency – our outputs (products and services) for our customers
- additional demands on our services
- additional demands on our information technology application and infrastructure
Establish processes that allow staff to continue to function without endangering them
The potential knock on impacts of a pandemic may lead to activation of other plans or sub plans including the crisis management plan, communications plan and the business continuity plan.
There is a lot of uncertainty at this time. It is stressful and uncomfortable for many people. Good leadership is now more important than ever.
Download our Responding to COVID-19 presentation for a pandemic plan checklist.
How we can help
InConsult is committed to helping organisations become more resilient to a range of disruptions including pandemics. We have extensive experience in risk management, crisis management, business continuity, emergency management, disaster management and pandemic planning.
If you feel the coronavirus may have an adverse impact on your business and would like to discuss strategies to be better prepared and respond, contact us to discuss your needs.