Business Continuity Planning & COVID-19

Across Canada, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has rapidly and significantly interrupted the normal operations of businesses and organizations in an unprecedented fashion. The unfortunate reality of this situation is many of these businesses and organizations have been hit hard, and are having to make difficult adjustments and swift changes in efforts to stay afloat.

Viewed in this real-time context, the necessity of a detailed, comprehensive and well thought out business continuity plan (BCP) has never been clearer.

What is a business continuity plan? Why is it important?

A business continuity plan is a system of prevention and recovery that a company implements to mitigate the impacts of potential risks or threats to its normal operations and services. This plan ensures the company is able to continue functioning efficiently and effectively in the event of a disaster.

As far as property and casualty insurance is concerned, pandemics such as COVID-19 are rarely (if ever) covered as an insured peril triggering coverage, meaning the associated business interruption and extra expense costs incurred would not be covered by a business insurance policy. Therefore, a comprehensive BCP is crucial in mitigating the financial impacts of operational interruptions, and is an important part of any risk management strategy.

What should be included in a business continuity plan?

A comprehensive BCP should consider:

  • Defining the potential risks faced/the scope of the plan
  • Appointing a structured/organized Business Recovery Team (BRT)
  • Outlining accountabilities of key stakeholders/all personnel
  • Defining procedures/resources required in recovery
  • Data and records back-up/protection/recovery; securing offsite servers or other contingency services; planning delivery of interim IT support
  • Internal/external communications strategies and back-up channels (with team, partners, suppliers, etc.)
  • Ensuring all personnel have access to necessary equipment/supplies/ resources
  • Identifying alternate operations sites (work from home, alternate workspace etc.)
  • Regular plan testing/updating; staff training

(You can find sample BCPs on Associations Connect here.)

Improving Your BCP

This is indeed a time that tests the effectiveness of existing BCPs, and truly provides an opportunity for analysis and improvement — at the appropriate time. Some of the questions you can explore include:

  • Was the organization prepared/organized?
  • How effective were the measures taken?
  • Did the scope of the plan account for this scenario?
  • What needs to be added or updated?

These questions will help your organization make necessary adjustments and set you on a strong footing to enhance your readiness for the future.

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