SMBs – Time to Incorporate Pandemics into your Business Continuity Planning

Posted November 9, 2009, 4:29 pm by Dennis Piche

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Dennis Piche

These days when teams get together to discuss risk scenarios, the focus tends to be on facilities (ie What if disaster strikes?) and suppliers (ie What if we cannot get the materials we need to produce our product or service?).  Epidemics or pandemics rarely enter the thought process.  The recent outbreak of H1N1, commonly known as the swine flu, is forcing business managers to consider risks to their primary resource – their employees. 


SMBs are especially susceptible to the negative economic impacts of a flu pandemic.  Considering that many are fighting to stay afloat as it is, H1N1 combined with the recession, has the potential to create a perfect storm.


So what type of risks does H1N1 present to your business? 


Productivity:   On the low end of the scale in terms of business impact is productivity.  As absenteeism rates begin to rise it is natural that productivity suffers.


Service Delivery – The ripple effect:  Higher rates of absenteeism can lead to an inability to delivery your products or services effectively.  This has a ripple effect in a supply chain.  Your business may be prepared for H1N1 but what if your supplier is not?


Complete Business Disruption:  A severe outbreak at the office, in your supply chain, or in your community, can lead to complete business disruption – too many employees too sick to work and the ones who are not sick are too scared to come into the office.


The flu season has already started – am I too late?  It’s never too late to put tools in place to help mitigate risks to your business.  The key here is to enable your employees to remain productive.  Implementing telecommuting and sick leave policies are your fist step.  Once you are confident that you have your internal workforce covered you can broaden your approach to include your external workforce (ie vendors and suppliers).  This may involve supplier diversification or simply adjusting your inventories.


Where can I go for help?  Fortunately there is no shortage of help out there.  Government agencies, Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs), even new H1N1 specific businesses can all help support your business continuity efforts.  Here are a few recommended links:  Great resource.  ANXeBusiness can help with your business continuity planning and has emergency virtual private network (VPN) services available.  Had to list these guys just because I love their entrepreneurial spirit.

Edited January 2, 2010 by Dennis
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