March 20, 2020
In a recent poll conducted by Gartner, just 12 percent of more than 1,500 people surveyed in a recent business continuity webinar think their businesses are highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus. And only 26 percent believe that the virus will have little or no impact on their business.
Organizations all over the globe are scrambling to shift priorities and keep business running with as much normalcy as possible during the current Coronavirus/Covid 19 outbreak that is disrupting operations globally.
“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 of Advisory with Gartner, in a post on the outbreak.
ISC Security News asked security and risk professionals for thoughts on what business leaders should be focusing on now to implement business continuity plans successfully and to best prepare for the foreseeable future during the pandemic.
Establish a pandemic preparedness framework
“Form a team that represents all critical business functions and reports directly to executive management,” Gartner notes in its post on pandemic planning. “The first priority for this team is to assess the relative importance of business activities and organize them into tiers for response or recovery.”
Get key stakeholders involved in all business continuity discussions
IT, security, HR and leadership have to respond in unison to ensure employees are protected and Enterprise Resiliency is intact,” said Christy Wyatt, president & CEO at Absolute, an IT security vendor. “We are seeing customers having business continuity discussions and taking a good look at where they may be most vulnerable. It is not lost on the security industry that, as users work from home and people are distracted with this pandemic, valuable assets could be compromised.”
Constant communication minimizes fear and uncertainty
“Organizations should have daily leadership calls to share updates about the coronavirus, overcome roadblocks related to business continuity and stay aligned as a team,” Gina Yacone, a security consultant with Agio. “Leadership should have a weekly web conference to keep employees apprised of business continuity of the organization and to ask questions. Frequent, honest communication can reduce rumors and needless anxiety and fear.”
Be mindful of physical space for critical team members
“Security operations should remain as scheduled, while management monitors the health of employees and provides safety measures to prevent any spread of virus or bacteria,” said Humberto Gauna of BTB Security. “It is important to ensure that there is enough space to prevent contagion, which is about 5-6 feet between team members and give them the ability to disinfect shared resources after use. If space is not available, managers may need to consider body substance isolation (BSI) – though if this was not planned, supplies may be limited and on back order.”
Consider lessons learned and formulate new plans after the outbreak
While it may be hard to consider now, the outbreak will eventually be over, and business operations will return to normal. If you haven’t already formulated a business continuity plan for pandemics, there is no time like after this global outbreak to learn lessons and put one together. What did you learn and what could be improved next time? Where were your gaps? These should all be considered for planning for the future.