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Published 12 mayo 2020
As the country and businesses start week 7 of ‘Lockdown’ due to COVID-19, it is a good time to reflect on your Business Continuity Plan or some may call it a ‘Disaster Plan’ or a ‘Crisis Management Plan.’ Regardless of what you call it, the question all businesses should be asking is: ‘How well has it performed during this current crisis?’
This may seem a very strange question, as most businesses will say: ‘How can we plan for something like COVID-19?’. This is a fair point given that the Government, most of the general population and businesses have not experienced anything like this before. However, as one, the country has been asking the Government what to do and what they are going to do to help on a daily basis. This is only right, as we should expect the Government to be prepared and get it right at times like this, regardless of who is in power.
It could be argued that the Government was not prepared, just like so many businesses, and has struggled to manage to the current crisis because it did not have a specific robust and stress tested ‘Epidemic/Pandemic Business Continuity Plan’. As the effects of COVID-19 were so unexpected, it is unlikely that a plan was actually in place, unlike the ones it has to deal with counter terrorism, potential war scenarios, cyber security breaches, environmental disaster etc. which are more common occurrences.
In is this day and age, the majority of businesses appear to only have one Business Continuity Plan, to deal with an ICT catastrophe to manage the effects of losing internet, phone lines and emails because everyone has suffered these problems. As other incidents are rare there is a culture of: ‘It has not happened to us yet, so why plan for it!’ This sort of thinking leaves businesses very much in the same position as we are now, reacting to a catastrophic incident without a plan in place or someone in the business to take ownership of the situation.
We know COVID-19 is currently a one off incident but how many businesses have planned for a major health incident?
Let’s look at a similar isolated scenario. What if, an employee returned home from a holiday in Africa and within couple of weeks became very ill and showing symptoms no one had seen before? Then over the next few days more and more employees started to show similar symptoms and stayed off work, resulting in 80% of the work force being off sick for an unknown length of time. If this was your business, could you cope and what would you do to manage the situation?
There has been a lot to learn during the COVID-19 crisis and it is unlikely that life as we knew it will ever be the same again for the general public and businesses. While the fall out will continue for some time to come, the lessons we have learned need to be used to good effect to ensure that if and more likely when, another catastrophic incident (not necessarily an epidemic or pandemic) hits a business, the business can cope and survive because they have prepared.
There are some very good examples of the above depending on the industry sectors, with some businesses having multiple Business Continuity Plans for cyber security breaches or environmental disasters or fatal workplace accidents or fatal vehicle collisions because they know they will happen at some point.
Also, some industries, such as the transport and logistics sector, have adapted very well during COVID-19 to keep the country fed and on the move. However, very few, if any of the businesses in this sector would have had a plan in place to prepare them for what has happened. This is likely to be the same for Business Continuity Plans for other catastrophic incidents that could affect them.
‘It has not happened to us yet!’ is an excuse that should now be well and truly confined to history.
All businesses should, going forward, plan for the numerous unexpected catastrophic incidents that could affect them in the future and have a robust and stress tested Business Continuity Plan for each type of incident. This may seem excessive but we have clearly seen over the last seven weeks, one plan does not fit all scenarios and 99.9% of catastrophic incidents that affect businesses will not get government support.
DAC Beachcroft have a wealth of experience and expertise to help prepare and write a Business Continuity Plan for any business for any eventuality. If you would like more information on how we can help, contact your local office which can be found at the following link. https://www.dacbeachcroft.com/en/gb/international/united-kingdom/
If you are a business in the transport and logistics sector, then please contact Charlotte Le Maire at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07905 276452.
Co-author: Andrew Drewary – Road Safety Consultant - Road Safety Smart
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