2020 – the “Poster Child” for Business Continuity Planning

2020 certainly put all our plans to the test – and broke many of them!

Looking back

Part of me wonders how well our pandemic plans would have held up at the records management company where I used to work.  We had considered a lot of the variables that this threw at us – loss of staff due to illness (although we hadn’t thought about quarantine for staff exposed but not sick), loss of revenue due to clients being either shut down or slowed down and therefore needing less service, increased demand from our health-care clients.

But most of me is very happy that I didn’t have to live through that and find out where we’d missed the boat in our plans! Instead, I had the good fortune to experience a well-organized effort as a part-time worker for a multi-national company.   Because they have offices worldwide, they had access to global news with real-time experience of what was really happening, and were therefore quick to grasp the severity and the scope of this pandemic.  They moved quickly to send as many staff as possible home to work, and implemented various mitigation strategies for those whose jobs could not be done remotely.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that even this part-time, temp position of mine rated a work-from-home setup.  I was also very glad I’d gotten about 6 months in at the office first, to learn most of what I needed to do!

Looking forward

I am hopeful that 2021 will see a resurgence in usage of the tools I provide on this site.  2020 wasn’t the year for it – if you hadn’t planned already, you certainly didn’t have the time or personnel to work on it during this time of need for it!  But it served as a serious example of why continuity planning is vital to business survival.

As we head into 2021, with the hope of vaccinations that will slowly help the virus recede, I sincerely hope that businesses large and small can make the time to review what worked and what didn’t, what changes they need to make permanently and what strategies they need to keep handy in case something like this hits again.

This was one of those low-probability but high-impact threats that are the hardest to plan and mitigate for.  Not everyone can put enough things in place to be able to keep going in the face of this type of threat, but having thought that through and knowing how to shut down gracefully is a valuable alternative to stumbling along until you have no choice but to close permanently.  I have always advocated that not every scenario must be mitigated – it’s OK to determine, after careful review, that there may be a small list of threats which you determine aren’t worth the cost and time to mitigate, and your strategy is to simply close the business in the face of those threats.

One of those, for that records management company, was the threat of an EMP.  Our perception at that time was that there would be so much damaged or not working that we would all be simply in survival mode.  These days, I know there are different scenarios, which is why I think the EMP Shield product is a simple no-brainer mitigation strategy for many companies.  Its cost is appropriately low for the low probability of the threat it represents, yet the protection it provides is commensurate with the high-impact need.

So use 2020 as your “poster child” of your Business Continuity Planning efforts, and end 2021 with a better plan in place!

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