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Nine Steps to Prepare Your Business for a Pandemic

The Financial Services Authority has called on UK Financial Services firms to assess their contingency plans in light of the recent outbreak of influenza

With acknowledgments to SunGuard, here is a useful

Nine Steps to Prepare Your Business for a Pandemic

1. Consider the Impact of Missing People Within Your Organisation

Plan for 40% of your staff to be absent (either through sickness, caring for family members or quarantined). Do you have the cross-training, documentation, tools and support to continue working with a significantly lower level of expertise? Consider whether it may be an option to share support roles from two or more geographic areas, to minimise impact on the potentially hardest-hit locale.

2. Revisit and Reassign Responsibilities

If your workforce or organisation has been restructured recently, some people may not be fully trained in their roles. Consider single points of failure among your staff from a knowledge perspective, and take action to identify alternate staff and to provide some level of cross training.

3. Consider the Impact of Missing People Outside Your Organisation

Expect similar absenteeism at key vendors should a pandemic develop. Review support relationships, and ask partners and vendors to share how they intend to meet requirements. If you have single vendors consider them potential points of failure, and consider multiple vendors to diversify your risk, and develop those relationships now.

4. Consider the Requirements and Priorities of Your Internal Customers

Business operations throughout the company may change based upon the local impact of the pandemic. Align resources to meet vital operations, and ensure that basic business operations can continue.

5. Consider the impact of More People Working From Home

Assess your infrastructure for remote workers, including technologies and support services. Home workers will still need application support, login and password support, and hardware support. You may see an increase in learning and awareness needs – how do I use remote access? Why can’t I get to X system?

6. Prepare for Lights Out

Systems will continue running, but may degrade as maintenance is unavailable. Schedule planned maintenance now. Ensure system documentation is up to date and readily accessible by support staff working in a remote location. Encourage cross-training. Apply what you’ve learned from earlier tests.

7. Understand your Vulnerabilities

How will you provide remote support? How will you do preventative maintenance – particularly hardware maintenance? How would you deal with the loss of limited expertise? What systems require special care? How will you handle call volumes? Focus on solutions that can be implemented quickly and provide the greatest benefit against the pandemic threat.

8. What should I Do Now – Today?

General business preparedness for a pandemic should be covered by each business unit. For technology teams, consider limitations in people, process, or technology that would be exposed if your organisation needs to respond to a “typical” disaster while operating without 40% of your staff.

9. What if I Have No Pandemic Plan?

You still have some time to prepare. Determine who will make critical decisions in the face of a pandemic, and work with any corporate leaders or crisis management structure. Understand your vulnerabilities looking at systems and data to some extent – but particularly at process and people. It’s the little things that get overlooked – do you know how to re-order essential stationery supplies like toner, ink and paper – or is it in the head of one of the 40% who isn't here and won't be back for 2 weeks?



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Keith Appleyard

Keith Appleyard

IT Consultant

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17 Aug 2007



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