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Business Continuity Planning During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

June 08, 2020 | Blog

In uncertain times like these, we think back to Hurricane Katrina and the efforts of business owners to continue operations through that emergency situation. Business continuity planning was important then and it is equally important now as business owners strategize and probe for ways to continue operations through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during what is predicted to be a very active hurricane season.

What is Business Continuity Planning?
Business continuity planning is intended to drive a business through temporary (i.e., not permanent) disruptions. Each plan should address practical considerations relevant to the business which, at a minimum, may include the following categories:

  • Dislocation from office or key physical assets due to an emergency situation
  • Information backup processes and procedures
  • System restoration processes and procedures
  • Continuation of customer service and customer communications
  • Loss or unavailability of business operating systems and components
  • Loss or unavailability of key personnel
  • Supply or distribution channel impacts
  • Processes and procedures for training employees
  • Recordkeeping and supervisory obligations
  • Emergency contact and communications trees
  • Risk and liability mitigation strategies

In certain industries, regulatory authorities governing those industries require license holders to maintain a Business Continuity Plan as part of fiduciary duty to customers and may specify the issues that each plan is to address. While in other industries it is deemed to be a best practice. Also, it is not uncommon for commercial agreements between partners to require each party to produce their plan, including in Supply Agreements, Manufacturing Agreements, Distribution Agreements, Product Development Agreements, and general Services Agreements.

How Can a Business Continuity Plan Help During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
The Business Continuity Plan can be an important tool for ensuring that a business’s service line is preserved during and through the incident that causes business disruption, like the coronavirus pandemic. We expect that those businesses with such plans are actively consulting and utilizing their plans as they work through the current national emergency, and would suggest that the plans be amended on a real-time basis as management pivots to address situations that arise.

If you have not yet begun planning for the 2020 hurricane season it is not too late! The good news is you have already begun working on continuity procedures due to the pandemic, now it is time to revise and document those procedures so you can communicate them to your staff, customers and vendors. There are many obstacles for businesses when it comes to preparing for this year’s hurricane season: A dispersed workforce. The dueling threats of the pandemic and hurricane season. Less financial flexibility. But these are reasons to prepare accordingly. If anything, the pandemic simply means that we will need to change the way we prepare for this hurricane season—and the way we respond when hurricanes do come.

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