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Considerations for K–12 Administrators to Improve Business Continuity Planning

Ariana Flewelling

Even the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

If the pandemic has made one fact clear, it’s that planning for an uncertain future is difficult to do. Schools have come a long way from the tumultuous days of required remote learning, yet — as districts look ahead — the uncertainty remains. Planning for the coming school year could prove to be just as challenging.

Although the requirement to create learning continuity plans was tied to the implementation of emergency remote learning, business continuity plans are a long-standing approach to maintaining the integrity of a business. Be it fire, cyberattack, the loss of a key employee or the onset of a pandemic, difficult situations are inevitable; a business continuity plan can enable organizations to deal with the fallout. Districts that have a plan in place have already identified ways to minimize risk before a problem occurs and what to do in the worst-case scenario.

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To better coordinate for the coming year — or even the next semester — administrators should work with the IT teams and other departments in their districts. This will help them understand the full scope of the district’s needs and challenges, such as the extent of the burnout causing  widespread staffing shortages in K­–12 schools . Here are other key takeaways for the business continuity plan process.

Considerations for School Leaders Creating Business Continuity Plans

Consider what the worst-case scenario might be, and prepare for that. Figure out what would require the most work, the most technology and the most preparation. It is always better to be overprepared than caught off guard.

If district leaders are prepared for business continuity in the event of the worst-case scenario, and they don’t need to enact all of their plans, they will have an a la carte menu of solutions to choose from, and will have the freedom to choose the options that work best for their situation, whatever that looks like next year.

When creating a plan, district leaders should also remember  the total cost of ownership for technology solutions . This includes all the components necessary to make the device functional as intended.

The total cost of ownership also encompasses solutions to get new tech up and running, and keep it that way. This means that districts need to consider professional development for users, IT knowledge and resources when it comes to troubleshooting and repairs, and more. Factoring in this total cost will give administrators a clearer idea of their budgets now and in the coming years for accurate business continuity planning.

DISCOVER:  Districts use IT investments to boost the bottom line amid tight budgets.

There are also  technology lifecycle  considerations to remember with new tech purchases. Once it’s been purchased, school IT teams need plans for integration and adoption phases. Beyond that, how will the technology be maintained, repaired, retired and refreshed? These factors can all affect a district’s business continuity, particularly in the event of a disaster, as seen with COVID-19. Subsequently, these factors also affect the post-disaster process. In some cases, they prevent districts from going back to business as usual; instead, rebuilding with something better than before, if possible.

State and Local Requirements Factor into Planning Logistics

In addition to the aforementioned considerations and takeaways, schools also need to look at their state and local requirements for planning.

There may be a specific template districts need to use or specific information they must be sure to include. Administrators should look at  whether spending needs to be justified on the front end or the back end .

California, for example, requires districts to create  a Local Control and Accountability Plan . This requires schools to set goals, create action plans, provide data, and show how they want to achieve their goals and why. The LCAP also requires districts to hold community listening sessions in which they explain their plan and solicit feedback. This allows stakeholders to have a voice in the plan and the decisions being made.

Once created, the LCAP functions as the district’s funding plan, so it’s important for schools in the state to make their planning decisions carefully. The LCAP, and other states’ requirements, can guide districts to improved business continuity planning.

Stopgap Measures to Improve Business Continuity in the Short Term

Administrators who find they haven’t planned appropriately for the current year should look at what they need most urgently to maintain business continuity in the coming semester. They should determine their priorities for the spring and figure out — of the things they would like to improve — what actions most closely align with those priorities. Those are the improvements they need to make; everything else should be let go.

WATCH NOW:  Innovate on a small budget with a limited IT staff. 

It may seem necessary to put resources into creating a short-term fix for numerous concerns, but in the long run it will be more beneficial to focus time and money on only the most crucial changes. In trying to fix everything, districts may wind up fixing nothing. Instead, it’s best to focus on the changes that provide the best ROI for learning and the ROI for time.

If schools focus on high-quality, technology-enhanced instruction, they will improve learning outcomes no matter what model they’re using. Educators should be set up to use technology in a way that is most advantageous for what they’re trying to teach.

Ultimately, everything comes down to, how does this help all students access a high-quality education? How does it relate back to students needing to have access to school? Students — what they are learning and what schools are trying to teach them — should always be at the center of any decision-making processes.

This article is part of the “ ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology ” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the   #ConnectIT   hashtag.

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Business continuity in the COVID-19 emergency: A framework of actions undertaken by world-leading companies

Alessandro margherita.

a University of Salento, Campus Ecotekne, Via Monteroni s.n., 73100 Lecce (LE), Italy

Marikka Heikkilä

b Centre for Collaborative Research (CCR), Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Rehtorinpellonkatu 3, FI-20500 Turku, Finland

The COVID-19 emergency has urged companies to operate in new ways to face supply chain interruptions, shifts in customer demand, and risks to workforce health. The organizational ability to respond to critical contingencies is crucial for business leaders in the perspective of continuing business. In our research, we investigate the actions undertaken by 50 world-leading corporations to respond to the pandemic. Applying content analysis to web pages and social network posts, we extract 77 actions related to 13 sub-areas and integrate these into a five-level framework that encompasses operations, customer, workforce, leadership, and community-related responses. We also describe six illustrative company examples of how the emergency can generate opportunities for creating new value. The study advances the scholarly discussion on the impact of emergencies on business continuity and can help leaders define response strategies and actions in the current challenge.

1. Responding to COVID-19

Since the first months of 2020, the world has experienced an unprecedented health emergency generated by the global diffusion of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19). On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic and on November 30, 2020, the WHO reported about 62 million confirmed cases and 1.5 million confirmed deaths affecting 220 countries, areas, or territories.

Besides representing extraordinary health and social emergency, the pandemic is also a major threat to companies and the continuity of their business processes. Whereas business continuity represents a strategic organizational capability ( Wong, 2009 ) also associated with resilience ( Parker & Ameen, 2018 ; Sabatino, 2016 ; Sahebjamnia et al., 2015 ; Schätter et al., 2019 ), the literature has specifically discussed the relevance of crisis management for the survival of organizations ( Laufer, 2015 ). A classification effort was also conducted to identify key research themes and trends in crisis management ( Coombs & Laufer, 2018 ) along the different pre-crisis (prevention and preparation), crisis (response), and post-crisis (learning and revision) activities ( Coombs, 2015 ).

The interest in investigating business continuity and a company’s ability to respond to a critical scenario is significantly relevant in the most recent pandemic. The difficult contingency caused by COVID-19 represents an important context to investigate company reactions. The main positioning and research goal of this article is to analyze world-leading organizations and to build a framework of responses realized by those firms to ensure business continuity in the pandemic scenario. Besides analyzing responses aimed to ensure the preservation of current value, we have a secondary focus to discuss how the emergency can generate opportunities for organizations to create new stakeholder value.

After a review of extant approaches on business continuity and organizational resilience in emergency scenarios, we present an in-depth analysis of the responses of the first 50 Fortune Global 500 companies to the COVID-19 emergency as well as a content analysis of web pages and LinkedIn posts of companies dedicated to the pandemic. Then, we discuss how we isolated 77 actions aggregated into a five-level framework that encompasses operations, customers, workforce, leadership, and community-related responses. Finally, we describe six company cases as illustrative examples of organizations attempting to create new business value in the critical scenario.

2. Background

In recent years, there has been fervent academic interest in organizational responses to critical situations. Today, organizations are forced to build resilience against numerous events that threaten the continuity of their business processes ( Sahebjamnia et al., 2018 ). These include natural events (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes) and man-made factors such as cyberattacks, geopolitical crises and terrorism (e.g., Castillo, 2005 ; Sheffi, 2001 ), corporate crisis (e.g., Yang & Jiang, 2015 ), and market and supply chain crises (e.g., Chopra & Sodhi, 2014 ; Kleindorfer & Germaine, 2005 ; Sáenz et al., 2018 ; Strandvik et al., 2018 ). A significant stream of literature has studied the problem of planning and foresight for emergency preparedness and management ( Turoff et al., 2013 ).

Organizations strive to cope with emergencies and critical events to keep their reputation, be more resilient, and ensure continuity ( Parker & Ameen, 2018 ; Rezaei Soufi et al., 2019 ). The management of business continuity has evolved since the 1970s as a form of crisis management in response to the different risks that threaten an organization. It is a holistic management process that provides a framework for effective response ( Herbane, 2010 ), and business continuity plans have been developed primarily to minimize the effects of unanticipated events on the firm’s ability to meet customer requirements ( Zsidisin et al., 2005 ).

Scholars and practitioners have introduced several methods to assist organizations in improving business continuity (e.g., Botha & von Solms, 2004 ; British Standards Institution, 2006 ; Gibb & Buchanan, 2006 ; ISO, 2012 ; Lindström et al., 2010 ; López & Ishizaka, 2019 ). Activities include risk and impact evaluation, continuity plan/process design, implementation and measurement, testing, and continuous update of measures ( Cerullo & Cerullo, 2004 ; Pitt & Goyal, 2004 ; Speight, 2011 ). The literature emphasizes compliance with continuity standards ( Freestone & Lee, 2008 ; Tammineedi, 2010 ), risk management ( Nosworthy, 2000 ; Schätter et al., 2019 ), and organizational culture ( Alesi, 2008 ; Rapaport & Kirschenbaum, 2008 ). Typically, the focus has been on ensuring the continuity of a specific business domain such as IT infrastructure ( Bajgoric, 2006 ), supply chain ( Benyoucef & Forzley, 2007 ), or outsourcing ( De Luzuriaga, 2009 ).

With a particular focus on supply chain and business continuity, Zsidisin et al. (2005) highlighted the importance of developing business continuity plans by addressing key concepts such as risk, uncertainty, and exposure. The authors examined how and why firms create business continuity plans to manage this risk and highlighted how various isomorphic pressures left firms with similar risk management practices embedded in their supply management practices. Based on the study of companies operating in different environments, the authors found consistency in their approaches to continuity planning and four interrelated tasks (i.e., awareness, prevention, remediation, and knowledge management) that form a framework for effective continuity planning ( Zsidisin et al., 2005 ).

Whereas business continuity is generically aimed to preserve the value that an organization provides with current activities, with business model innovation the organization is deliberately altering the core elements of its model as a way to develop a new-to-business model ( Bucherer et al., 2012 ; Heikkilä et al., 2018 ; Pohle & Chapman, 2006 ). The integration between business continuity and business model was recently advanced by Niemimaa et al. (2019) , who pointed out that while business continuity focuses on preserving current operations, a crisis could also be a source of new value. Recent research also provided methods for companies to evaluate the components of their business model against future uncertainties ( Bouwman et al., 2018 ; Haaker et al., 2017 ).

There has been an increase in scholarly interest in analyzing the strategic decisions and actions undertaken by companies to respond to a crisis is increasing. Whereas the COVID-19 outbreak has generated a large stream of research contributions focusing on different managerial dimensions, a comprehensive study of company responses along several organizational perspectives has not yet been introduced. We focus on these responses in the following sections.

3. Research process

Our study involves conceptual development work based on the analysis of available web-based information about the responses of leading corporations to the COVID-19 outbreak. Content analysis is a method of studying and analyzing communication in a systematic, objective, and quantitative manner to measure variables ( Wimmer & Dominick, 2000 ). The method can be used in social science to examine patterns in communication systematically. One key advantage of using content analysis to analyze social phenomena is its noninvasive nature in contrast to simulating social experiences or collecting survey answers. Practices of content analysis range from systematic observation of texts or artifacts to which assigned labels indicate the presence of interesting, meaningful content.

Different applications of web content analysis are described in the literature. Jose and Lee (2007) used content analysis based on website disclosures to study the environmental reporting of global corporations. Ting et al. (2013) performed an advanced website evaluation to assess the top 100 hotels. Maatota et al. (2019) used content analysis of storytelling elements and brand archetypes of LinkedIn ad campaigns. McCorkindale (2010) reported on the content analysis of the Fortune 50’s Facebook social networking sites, and Parsons (2013) engaged in content analysis of official Facebook pages to assess how companies would use social media to reach consumers. The methods in these studies include a combination of sample design and preparation, source identification, analysis of content and cases, and synopsis of findings. Along with such macro research activities, our research process included three initial steps, illustrated in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Steps of the research process

Step 1, Sample design and preparation, is dedicated to identifying the population of companies to include in the study. We looked at big corporations since they are extensively affected by the COVID-19 emergency, and they face challenges at both the local level (e.g., progression of the disease in the local communities) and the global level (e.g., impact on international markets and global logistics). The study of response strategies undertaken by these types of companies is thus more able to address a comprehensive view of the multidimensional challenges generated by a pandemic scenario.

We used the 2019 Fortune Global 500 ranking, an annual ranking of the top 500 corporations worldwide as measured by the level of their revenues. We considered the first 50 companies, which represent a well-diversified group of organizations operating in different continents and countries (e.g., China, France, Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.K., the U.S.) and in different industries (e.g., automotive, bank and insurance, energy, food distribution, oil, telecommunication, and utilities). Companies include world-leading players such as Allianz, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Bank of China, Berkshire Hathaway, BP, Daimler, Gazprom, General Electric, Royal Dutch Shell, Saudi Aramco, Samsung Electronics, Toyota, Verizon, and Walmart. The sources used to collect data are twofold. First, we looked at the corporate websites of companies and particularly the pages dedicated to COVID-19 and the actions undertaken by the organizations to face the pandemic. Second, we analyzed the LinkedIn pages of those organizations with a specific focus on the posts providing information on how organizations are responding to the emergency. The output of the first phase was a worksheet with the list of organizations, along with key demographic data (i.e., home country, industry, and revenues) and the web addresses of COVID-related web pages and the LinkedIn page (main profile) of the company.

Step 2, Analysis of responses and actions , focuses on capturing information on the identified companies in terms of responses to the coronavirus emergency. We studied corporate websites and LinkedIn pages to identify messages, statements, and reports on COVID-19 and on how the companies are responding along multiple perspectives. Overall, we analyzed about 300 web pages and 400 LinkedIn posts, and we annotated relevant information for further analysis and classification.

The content search was aided by the fact that practically all the analyzed organizations have set up web pages specifically dedicated to COVID-19. Concerning the LinkedIn pages, the identification of relevant content was more complex as we needed to go through all the posts from February 2020 to the time of the study (mid-April 2020) to identify information related to the outbreak and the vision and responses of the company. The content analysis process was thus not characterized by a bounded or limited sample of key concepts to be searched. More than using a priori coding schema, we conducted a systematic reading of the corporate web sources and social network messages dedicated to the emergency, and we identified three general categories of information.

First, we coded with “scenario” the general information provided by the company about the pandemic and its impact on the industry and market. The extracted content is mostly derived from the reports of the companies of what is happening in the external environment, and this was used to enhance our understanding of the business-related aspects of the coronavirus outbreak. An illustrative (adapted and anonymized) company statement is: “The COVID-19 is rapidly diffusing in most European countries, and it is creating the conditions for a limitation of flows of people and products. This could strongly impact the logistic and dynamics of our industry.”

Second, we extracted the “strategies”: general policies or approaches defined by companies to react to the outbreak. Here, the strategy refers to how the company sees the crisis and what is its position in responding to the crisis, thus providing a relevant interpretation of where the organization stands and what is the vision ahead. An illustrative statement is: “Our company intends to react firmly to the emergency by following all the indications provided by health authorities and keeping to ensure first of all the health of our workers and customers.”

Finally, we identified “initiatives” (i.e., practical activities assumed by the companies along different areas). This content was the most relevant for our study since it is explicitly related to the actions realized by the organization in response to an emergency. Naturally, the information on scenarios and strategies was relevant to better interpret the purpose and scope of those actions, as one organization illustrated with this statement: “We are extending the service period for most of our products and enhancing our contact center to provide the best service possible to our customers.”

We triangulated content gathered from the websites and social network pages by looking at corporate videos and interviews (mostly delivered by top managers), broadcasts, and other sources available on the web. We collected all relevant information into a spreadsheet for further analysis and generated a long list of initiatives (actions) realized by the 50 companies by doing a high-level consolidation of similar items.

Step 3, “Response framework building,” was aimed to obtain an integrative inventory of organizational responses. After careful analysis of extracted data, we aggregated companies’ actions by deriving a taxonomy of common macro-areas that could group similar items: operations management, customer relationship management, human resource management, leadership and change management, and community management. Most of the initiatives were clearly about one of those groups; only in a few cases were initiatives potentially relevant for two or more categories, and in those cases, we selected the most relevant dimension. We also realized a cross-check of the taxonomy with business continuity methods, approaches, and cases found in the literature. We thus obtained a COVID-19 response model, which is described in the next section.

4. Framework of response actions

This study focuses on two key concepts: business continuity (in crisis and emergency scenarios) and value creation (through business model innovation). We looked at how companies attempted to address the critical challenges caused by the pandemic event through minor or significant process changes while also looking at how business models have been adapted to create new value by leveraging the difficult contingencies.

All the 50 organizations analyzed took coordinated actions to face the COVID-19 emergency. We isolated 77 responses related to 13 sub-areas and five areas of organizational activities: (1) operations and value system; (2) customer experience and support; (3) workforce and human capital; (4) leadership and change management; and (5) community and social engagement. The classification was obtained by aggregating the single responses into homogeneous categories (sub-areas) and then identifying more high-level areas able to include those categories. Figure 2 provides a snapshot of the five areas and the 13 sub-areas of actions undertaken by companies in response to the COVID-19 emergency. All the areas are detailed through the description of the sub-areas and the illustration of the specific actions.

Figure 2

A framework of response actions for COVID-19

4.1. Actions related to operations and value system

The first area of responses is related to the effects of COVID-19 on the management of the companies’ operations and value system ( Table 1 ). In particular, responses can be associated with three sub-areas according to their focus. Some actions are addressed to face the shifts in customer demand and the impact on the supply chain, which has brought companies to identify and measure risks, and to envision a possible future. Most companies analyzed were engaged in assessing the overall impact of the crisis on operations, as well as in defining scenarios of demand and sales evolution, also based on the use of advanced analytics and business intelligence systems. Different companies, such as AmerisourceBergen, have monitored inventory levels and customer purchasing behavior to assess any potential impact on the product supply chain.

Sub-areas and actions related to operations and value system

The second sub-area of actions is related to logistic flows, both inflows of resources and materials and outflows of products and services to customers. In this case, company responses are addressed to enhance digital connectivity across the supply chain while ensuring business-critical resources, processes, and services. Also, the inventory/warehousing and order management processes are being re-engineered to optimize routes and to reduce risks. As an illustrative example, Amazon has reported realizing more than 150 process updates to ensure the reduction of risks and enhance the ability to satisfy prioritized needs.

The third sub-area includes actions related to the continuity of manufacturing processes and/or the conversion of the same to address new market needs or to contribute to the community’s fight against the pandemic. Actions included the conversion of production to deliver protective materials and products, the optimization of production capacity, and the reconfiguration of plants to enhance workforce security. In such a view, companies like General Motors have engaged in the production of protection devices (like face masks) and collaborated with partners to provide pulmonary ventilators. Whereas supply chain management generally includes logistics and manufacturing, we separated the three concepts in our framework. Based on the analyzed responses, we needed to isolate actions generically addressed to assess the supply chain impact of the crisis (thus including an ecosystem view) from more specific actions targeted at redesigning logistic and transformation activities, which are mostly related to an internal view of the organization.

4.2. Actions related to customer experience and support

A large number of response actions found in the study address the impact of COVID-19 on the customer experience and the management of the customer life cycle ( Table 2 ). The first sub-area of actions concerns the customers’ buying experience, including the buying process, with a specific focus on touchpoints and physical interaction with the company. Most organizations have reengineered access to shops and facilities and adopted several prevention measures across all customer touchpoints. Digital channels and contact centers have been enhanced, and customer mobility was assessed and reported. Companies like Walmart have taken actions aimed to limit customer access and flows in shops (e.g., one-door entry), implement sanitation and social distancing, and provide sneeze guards in all stores. Companies have also provided payment relief and financial assistance to customers along with other kinds of support services.

Sub-areas and actions related to customer experience and support

Response actions have included the development of new training for customer teams, new forms of customer outreach and communication, and emotional support to customers. For example, AT&T has provided digital parenting solutions for families. The company’s ScreenReady site shares digital parenting tips and resources to help families stay connected, learning, and entertained at home during the coronavirus. Finally, several actions are addressed to respond to the marketing impact of COVID-19. Responses included the redefinition of brand strategies and the design of new purposeful payoffs, logos, and marketing messages. In this regard, Volkswagen and Audi have temporarily modified their well-known logos to communicate the importance of practicing social distancing.

4.3. Actions related to workforce and human capital

The third response area ensures the well-being of the workforce and to reducing the negative effects of the outbreak while creating the conditions for enhancing the human capital of the organization ( Table 3 ). First, actions aim to ensure the safety of workplaces (e.g., offices, shops, facilities) by activating infection prevention measures. Responses include the definition of procedures for workplace hygiene and sanitization, rules for office layout and usage, the launch of employee-dedicated COVID-19 information portals, and the sharing of norms for physical interaction and employee tracking. For example, Hon Hai Precision Industry has used infrared scanning, severe social distancing measures in the workplace, and QR codes for employee tracking.

Sub-areas and actions related to workforce and human capital

Second, responses seek to support employee productivity, although in a smart and remote configuration. Organizations have taken actions to cope with employee infodemic (i.e., an overload of information, both online and offline) and disinformation, and they have defined criteria for workplace rotation, remote access, and competence development. As is the case with many other organizations, Trafigura Group has activated a social-spacing policy, including for office-based employees working from home. Finally, some actions focus on monitoring and managing cases of exposed and infected employees, defining leave and return-to-work procedures, and ensuring health assistance and psychological support. For example, Costco Wholesale has activated premium pay and paid time off for higher-risk employees and ensured the availability of protective masks and symptom screenings for employees and managers.

4.4. Actions related to leadership and change management

The fourth area of responses to face the COVID-19 emergency concerns actions focused on managing the current emergency while preparing the organization for the future ( Table 4 ). First, analyzed actions include the definition of a response plan and a dedicated management team, the creation of an emergency coordination task force, and the undertaking of stress tests to assess the working capital and resource preparedness of the organization. Verizon Communications has gathered purposeful senior crisis leadership and response teams able to face the emergency by identifying proper strategies and actions. Second, responses include the alignment of business leaders in terms of the organization’s strategy against the emergency, the definition of a portfolio of post-emergency actions and value-creation opportunities, and efforts to maintain the trust of people. For example, companies such as Honda Motors have put extra effort into their marketing and social media presence to enhance positive communication and encouragement for customers and the larger community.

Sub-areas and actions related to leadership and change management

4.5. Actions related to community and social engagement

The response area is related to the interaction of the organization with external stakeholders, both to contribute tangibly to fight the pandemic and by sharing knowledge useful to support first responders and the whole community ( Table 5 ). The first sub-area relates to money donations, financial support, and the provision of resources and products (e.g., protection masks, ventilators) to fight the pandemic. Actions include the provision of special discounts and gift programs to responders/helpers, contributions to open innovation initiatives by disclosing knowledge and intellectual property, and support to research entities. For example, BP has provided donations, free fuel, free delivery of food, and convenience goods to customers and partners.

Sub-areas and actions related to community and social engagement

Second, actions are addressed to ensure coordination with agencies and institutions and to share best practices and organizational experience, which can be useful for the community. Initiatives include the sharing of critical information and response tactics with responders, as well as the strengthening of public and private collaborations to define more effective response strategies. For example, Alphabet (the holding company including Google) is strongly engaged in assisting educational institutions with content, tools, and distance learning, and it has planned to launch a national platform to educate the community on coronavirus.

In this section, we have presented a comprehensive inventory of 77 response actions undertaken by 50 big corporations to the COVID-19 emergency, and we have aggregated the actions into a five-level business continuity framework. The next section discusses how the current emergency can also generate opportunities for creating new value.

5. Creating value beyond the crisis

5.1. drivers of value creation.

The literature on company behavior during recessions shows how companies can survive and even profit by modifying their marketing strategy ( Köksal & Özgül, 2007 ), increasing the R&D budget ( Laperche et al., 2011 ), investing in innovation ( Archibugi et al., 2013 ; Paunov, 2012 ), and enhancing their corporate governance ( Villanueva-Villar et al., 2016 ). The business crisis generated by the COVID-19 outbreak has also generated opportunities for organizations to go beyond simple business continuity and the preservation of current value.

A combination of transforming customer and supply chain trends and the necessary redesign of corporate processes has indeed stimulated the redefinition of strategies and actions able to generate new business value. Whereas some of the responses provided by organizations to the COVID-19 are mostly reactions critical for survival (e.g., protection of employee safety), others can be considered more transformational actions. These are aimed at developing new capabilities to respond to the current challenges while looking at the challenges as opportunities for future growth (e.g., digital health assistance and smart working).

We proceeded with a more in-depth analysis of our research data to identify interesting examples of initiatives, processes, or projects where the organizations are creating new value from a medium- and long-term perspective. Whereas new value can be generated by leveraging each element in the response framework ( Figure 2 ), the innovation potential seems to be related especially to three elements: (1) new products/services to address new customer needs; (2) improvement of virtual interaction and integration with customers; and (3) an enhanced image of the corporation as a socially responsible and community-oriented organization. Next, we illustrate these three value-creation avenues by providing six company examples.

Toyota started to face the COVID-19 emergency soon after its president announced the transformation of the company’s business model for the CASE era (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric) and the evolution of the organization toward a mobility company that provides resources and services for a connected city. Whereas the company has decreased its production due to COVID-19, Toyota has maintained employment and increased investment in the R&D of electric cars. It was able to create new customer-related value by introducing new car models to the market and by improving virtual interaction with customers who can explore and make purchases in virtual showrooms via WhatsApp video, Facebook Live, web chat, or phone. The company has adopted a product- and customer-centric view, which looks at the after-emergency in terms of new societal and market needs. Toyota has provided value to the community by full-scale production of medical devices and by offering Japan Taxi models to transport patients with mild symptoms. Also, the company has cooperated in the production of equipment such as makeshift beds for hospitals, disinfectant containers, and simple partition walls for use at medical facilities.

BP has robust business continuity plans in place to make sure that the company can supply energy, fuel, and vital petrochemical feedstocks uninterrupted. In retail sites, BP has increased cleaning procedures and encouraged customers to practice social distancing while also taking precautionary measures such as removing the sale of open food products. BP has also undertaken socially responsible initiatives by supporting governments and partners with donations and free fuel to emergency services vehicles, such as ambulances and helicopters. Working with the U.S. government, leading universities, and high-tech companies, BP’s Center for High-Performance Computing has been used for research on COVID-19. These new collaborations have provided the basis for strategic renewal and a new paradigm of extended collaboration (with countries, cities, and industries) aimed at creating new value.

Amazon has updated 150 processes, from social distancing measures to new efforts like disinfectant spraying and temperature checks. It established a $25 million relief fund for its partners (e.g., delivery drivers) facing financial hardship or quarantine. To address increased customer demand , the company has focused on fast delivery of high-priority items, such as household staples and medical supplies. Amazon has provided the option of unattended delivery and defined a system to prevent price gouging. The company has also addressed the needs of customers and looked at the current situation as an opportunity to create value with new services. To help communities around the world, Amazon has made donations and provided work to 175,000 additional people. Finally, it launched a global initiative with participation from 35 global research institutions, startups, and businesses to accelerate COVID-19 diagnostics, research, and testing.

The change in insurance firm AXA’s business profile due to the pandemic has been notable. The company started providing its customers with apps for video medical consulting and new processes for online incident communication. It has also reached new customer segments. For example, AXA collaborated with the Accor hotel chain, which offered its customers free access to AXA’s medical teleconsultations from hotel rooms. Moreover, AXA has invested heavily in R&D. It provided €5 million for research to develop responses to infectious diseases, and notably to COVID-19, including the building of post-crisis solutions. The company has also supported the COVID-19 task force launched by the Institut Pasteur to develop new diagnostic tools and treatments. AXA supported an open research initiative in which a digital platform brings together engineers, practitioners, and researchers collaborating to design, test, and provide efficient emergency solutions.

The drug wholesale company AmerisourceBergen has increased inventory on items related to COVID-19 treatment and supportive care. The company has business continuity plans that include monitoring inventory levels and customer purchasing behavior for any potential impact on the product supply chain. General Electric, and in particular GE Healthcare, developed a new product, the Venue Go ultrasound system, which includes an artificial intelligence feature, the auto B-lines tool, that highlights and counts B-lines, which may signal COVID-19. The tool provides a lung diagram and generates a lung ultrasound score that helps clinicians to follow the progression of the lung condition in patients as they fight the virus.

6. Discussion

6.1. highlights and contribution.

This study has contributed to the extant business continuity literature by introducing an empirically derived inventory of response actions taken by leading companies during the COVID-19 crisis. The framework includes five dimensions, which are divided further into sub-areas and actions that address operational aspects affected by the outbreak. The dimensions range from internal operations to supply chain management, from human resources and leadership to relations with customers and stakeholders. We also include a community and social engagement perspective, which is not typically considered in the business model literature (e.g., Osterwalder & Pigneur, 2010 ). This finding shows that, at least in exceptional circumstances, the relations between a company and its local community are an important part of the company’s activities and value-creation potential.

Although many articles have depicted company responses to critical emergencies (e.g., Alesi, 2008 ; Castillo, 2005 ), we contributed with a comprehensive and evidence-based analysis of actual responses by large organizations to face the pandemic. Additionally, whereas emergency and business continuity studies have focused on general and crisis-independent activities such as risks and impact evaluation, continuity plan/process design, implementation, and measurement (e.g., Cerullo & Cerullo, 2004 ; Pitt & Goyal, 2004 ; Speight, 2011 ), we identified specific fine-grained actions aimed to ensure the continuity of business operations over a large spectrum of management dimensions.

Finally, the contribution of our study may be found in the integration between business continuity and business model innovation for value creation ( Bouwman et al., 2018 ; Foster & Dye, 2005 ; Haaker et al., 2017 ; Niemimaa et al., 2019 ). All large corporations have acted to ensure the continuity of their current business operations. However, as our illustrative cases show, some companies are also able to create new value by reaching current and new customers via digital channels, redirecting more resources from current operations to R&D activities, or increasing the companies’ social responsibility and involvement with their local communities.

6.2. Managerial insights

Some insights can be derived that could be useful for application in other companies dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 or thinking about improving their response strategies for future (likely although undesired) events. In the area of emergency management and crisis response, key success factors have been discussed in the literature, including adaptability, agility, communication, coordination, leadership, and technology application (e.g., Harrald, 2006 ; Zhou et al., 2017 ). We found these aspects in the investigated companies and their responses to the crisis and used them to formulate four main recommendations.

  • 1. Companies have been urged to develop an immediate reaction to the operational breakdown and the risks of infection within and outside the organization. Successful answers have been based on the implementation of agile business processes (which has involved redesign or adaptation of existing activities) and the use of digital technologies as key enablers.
  • 2. Most organizations have been forced to rely on available crisis management capabilities and financial and technical assets useful to face and overcome the emergency. Successful responses thus have also been based on the existence of technical reserves useful to ensure the sustainability of operations in the transition phase and to support smooth adaptation of the organization to the changing business situation.
  • 3. Organizations have developed a real-time awareness of the impact of the pandemic through advanced data gathering and monitoring capabilities. Successful responses have been based on the adoption of effective business analytics methods and tools that support information-rich communication and leadership.
  • 4. Organizations have been challenged with risks of declining sales due to switching customer needs and demand. Successful responses have included the creation of diversified and modular product/service portfolios and adaptable business models that can support a faster recovery.

7. Concluding remarks

In this study, we investigated the responses of 50 world-leading companies to the COVID-19 emergency, and we integrated the responses into a descriptive framework. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the most extended attempt to build an inventory of real actions undertaken by large companies to deal with a common global emergency.

The research is not without limitations. First, business continuity has been historically associated with medium and large corporations, and our research also focused on big organizations. However, the concepts of business continuity and resilience against emergencies should be extended to small organizations, which face the crisis generated by the pandemic along different and equally significant dimensions. Second, we used data available online (web pages and social network posts), which is the information shared by organizations about their responses to COVID-19. However, such public information is not necessarily able to describe the policies defined and actions undertaken by the companies comprehensively. At the same time, corporate communications messages conveyed through public outlets like websites and social network posts may be biased as possibly self-serving statements, which might not represent the situation with either accuracy or comprehensiveness. Access to real company knowledge and objective analytical reports, where possible, would thus allow researchers to strengthen the model by adding more fine-grained actions implemented by managers.

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school business continuity plan covid 19

Continuity in crisis: How to run effective business services during COVID-19

What’s happening.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a serious threat to people, businesses and economies across the world.  Gartner’s recent Business Continuity Survey  shows just 12 percent of organizations are highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus. Smart leaders must focus on how they can best protect their people, serve their customers and stabilize business continuity.

During times of crisis,  business operations —the intelligence engine of an organization—are more important than ever. Business continuity and disaster recovery plans are being tested by rapidly evolving challenges, such as travel restrictions, and as large-scale  remote working  becomes a reality.

of organizations are highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus, according to Gartner’s recent Business Continuity Survey.

of senior executives rarely update their operating model, according to initial data from an ongoing Intelligent Operations survey by Accenture and Oxford Economics.

Organizations must respond rapidly and robustly to maintain business continuity. Accenture recommends the following:

school business continuity plan covid 19

PREVENT: What to do now

Take immediate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of employees. Prioritize actions that put your people first and exploit the capabilities that global business services offer:

  • Enable people to work and connect with colleagues from diverse and secure locations and create safe working environments through regular sanitization.
  • De-densify workspaces, curb large meetings and ensure that protocols are followed in canteens, elevators and areas of common use. Limit all non-essential business travel and client visits and align with local health and safety guidelines.

school business continuity plan covid 19

PREPARE: What to do next

Identify priority processes and establish a command center. Take actions to meet the needs of your key stakeholders:

  • Identify priorities and critical processes, including functions such as employee payroll, healthcare and supply chain (to keep goods moving and services ongoing); also, highly important processes and other services such as payments, and necessary services in healthcare, insurance and banking.
  • Establish a  command center  for a virtual workforce to measure quality, productivity, compliance, insights and intelligence, people engagement and workforce well-being.

school business continuity plan covid 19

PREDICT: What to do for the longer term

Be proactive and create a customer-oriented plan that is sustainable. Prioritize actions that help you pre-empt the impact of volatility:

  • Bring together highly skilled, distributed teams that can log in anytime, anywhere and deliver on customer commitments at scale.
  • Build a broader ecosystem around the organization’s workforce to enable collaboration across a broader set of priorities—including healthcare and childcare. This will lead to improved morale and engagement levels resulting in better business outcomes.
Remember, empathetic leadership and communications are two key areas that aid human resilience in difficult times.

school business continuity plan covid 19

Where next?

Here are five ways to help your organization achieve intelligent, resilient operations:

school business continuity plan covid 19

1. Establish a resilient culture

Organizations should continue to execute work in a collaborative manner—with critical knowledge workers augmented by digital capabilities.

school business continuity plan covid 19

2. Create broader ecosystems based on social collaboration

Move beyond employee workspaces to broader ecosystems that employees can access, such as healthcare or childcare.

school business continuity plan covid 19

3. Employ agile, elastic workplace models

The best combination of  working from home and the office , depending on the nature and type of work and relevant skills required, can be enabled by technology, data, security and  cloud  computing.

school business continuity plan covid 19

4. Build a human+machine workforce

Make transactional processes more digital and focus on value-led, proactive operations driven by data and analytics to reduce stress on operations.

school business continuity plan covid 19

5. Adopt a distributed global services model

Use a mixture of service models to de-risk the organization in a volatile world. Distributed global services mean that high performance can be delivered anytime, anywhere.

Client case studies

SLIDESHARE: Accenture Operations' COVID-19 client case studies RELATED: Accenture Operations

As the situation unfolds, we will continuously update our materials, so please check back regularly.


The impact on consumer goods

Navigating the human and business impact

The industry impact of coronavirus

Productivity in uncertain times through the Elastic Digital Workplace

A brand. New. Purpose.

COVID-19: Responsive customer service in times of change

A brand. New. Purpose.

Building supply chain resilience: What to do now and next during COVID-19

A brand. New. Purpose.

Channel shift: Prioritizing digital commerce

school business continuity plan covid 19

Kaushal Mody

school business continuity plan covid 19

Paul Jeruchimowitz

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Business Continuity Planning for Schools

Keep your community functioning in the days after an emergency.

When it comes to emergency preparedness, we understandably prioritize commodities that will help us to avoid or minimize risk, and then on those that can aid in responding effectively when “it” happens. These are important considerations which all schools must address through effective planning, training and resource development. However, an often overlooked component of a comprehensive safety strategy is Business Continuity Planning (BCP). In this critical phase, we ask the question that eventually arises after an emergency: What Now?

BCP outlines the people, relationships and tools which enable schools to continue to serve as an educational institute and stronghold of our community after disaster strikes. They address the who, what, where, when and how of thriving under unusual conditions and with limited resources. This is accomplished through the identification of our critical functions and the creation of multiple layers of redundancy. Over the course of Business Continuity Planning, we’ll ask and answer 100 macro questions and 1000 micro ones, but the conversation has to start somewhere. What follows here are the top 5 issues schools can tackle to get the ball rolling:

  • What does leadership look like before, during and after an emergency? If our Incident Commander is compromised, who is next in line?  And after that? Create a succession list of at least five leadership tiers to ensure there’s always someone at the helm.
  • Where do we go if we can’t come back? If our campus is not accessible after an emergency, do we have formal agreements in place for a short term solution? Long term? Finding alternative space for leadership and / or the entire school community can be a challenge. Identify spaces with the resources needed to function as your HQ or backup learning site.
  • How do we continue to educate our students? Whether it’s setting up temporary classrooms at a backup facility or teaching remotely via an online module, we need to outline the strategy for connecting educators with students and ensuring access to our our rosters, lesson plans and other teaching resources.  Speaking of teaching resources, we can’t assume that staffing will be at 100% following an emergency. In fact, losing access to up to a quarter of your people is a best case scenario. Having a plan in place to bring in established substitutes or additional support from agencies such as Teachers on Reserve can make all the difference.
  • How robust is our technology?  Fortunately, data redundancy is inherent to most tech departments. Most critical information lives in the cloud or is backed up on multiple servers.  Finding out what information and processes live where and ensuring that the right people can access them if your primary server go down can mean the difference between being back online in 24 hours or 72 hours. This process also involves vetting your software vendors to ensure they are as prepared as you.
  • What partnerships can we foster to ensure the community thrives?  A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will serve as your formal agreement with facilities, supply vendors, staffing agencies, service providers, communication firms and other resources. Identifying those partners who are willing and able to support you can be a daunting task. And, the parameters for who you can rely on shift depending on whether the emergency is local, statewide or even national. Factor in your likely risks and prioritize your partnerships accordingly.

Finally, because we all share a sense of stewardship to the community, consider the role you can play in helping your neighbors, other schools, organizations and families as they plan for their continuity.  Your campus, your people and other resources may be positioned to shelter, feed and otherwise sustain others. However, we can only get so far with good intentions. Planning ahead to determine how your space, supplies and people can stretch to serve as a community center during a crisis is key. The work is well worth the effort and can help create stronger partnerships.  We are after all, Safer Together.

Check out more of our school safety resources below!

How NOT to Communicate in an Emergency 

Ten Ways to Immediately Improve School Safety

Effective Threat Assessment in Schools

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school business continuity plan covid 19

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COVID-19 Business Continuity Guide

  • 3 April 2020

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school business continuity plan covid 19

A high-level, practical guide for businesses based around four ICC key principles: Plan, Adapt, Monitor and Assess (PAMA).

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Foreword from ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak is impacting businesses all over the world. Whether your operations are already greatly affected, or the impacts are yet to be felt, a business continuity plan is essential to ensure you can be as resilient as possible in this global health crisis.

It is understandable to feel overwhelmed by the health and economic challenges posed by COVID-19. But we must focus on those things we can control. Preparedness is a critical factor in determining the likelihood your business will remain afloat. If you have not done so already, it is imperative that you put a plan in place to maintain business continuity.

This document serves as a high-level guide to business continuity to assist your business in weathering COVID-19, based around four key principles: Plan, Adapt, Monitor and Assess (PAMA).

I invite you to reach out to your local chamber of commerce and trade association for advice more tailored to your region and sector. Please also review government websites for business support schemes as they are progressively rolled out.

These are challenging times, but with preparedness, pragmatism and determination, we will prevail.

John W.H. Denton AO Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce

Contents of the COVID-19 Business Continuity Guide:

ICC Principles of COVID-19 Pandemic Preparation: (PAMA)

Sample Business Continuity Scenario Analysis: Coronavirus COVID-19 Template Business Unit Continuity Analysis

The guide is available now in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. Click “Get the Document” to choose your language preference.

Approximate document reading time: 13 minutes

ICC - International Chamber of Commerce

More From Forbes

Business continuity management lessons from the pandemic.

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Head of Market Lab Operations at  Ericsson .

Until a year ago, operations managers charged with business continuity predominantly focused on natural disasters, human error, cyberattacks and insider threats. In 2017, for instance, the top reasons cited for a business continuity plan were: minimizing downtime, protecting what's important, communicating with confidence, resuming operations and ensuring full recovery — all of which superseded the imperative to ensure employees' physical and mental well-being over an unprecedented period of time.

With a jolt and scarce previous experience, 2020 brought the sharp need to manage a pandemic and its potential impact of large-scale global business disruption.

A year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the havoc to lives continues to take its toll, and we are finding ourselves continually re-defining normalcy of business operations while prioritizing the well-being of company employees. While there is controversy in comparing this pandemic to WWII , the sense of what we are experiencing in the global community is that every one of us will eventually know firsthand of casualty and loss — be that a family member, friend or colleague.

Undoubtedly, in years to come, we will learn more to help businesses be better equipped to deal with a global pandemic. This article is an aggregation of firsthand experience and observations over the past year, intended to provoke thinking toward a more refined and structured approach to business continuity management (BCM) during a global pandemic.

As the pandemic grew worldwide, business operations had to quickly minimize potential impacts while rapidly enabling a remote workforce and implementing safe practices. Because of these shifts, physical access controls had to be doubled-up and synchronized with country and local regulations. In the midst of information (or lack thereof), decisions on mitigation steps had to be rationalized in the context of what, at best, minimized the risk of infection. Machine redundancy became secondary to ensuring each employee with critical skills or roles had a backup and were physically isolated.

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Management required quick and practical training on how to keep their employees healthy, as well as how to communicate appropriately. The need for real-time and parallel interdepartmental communication became paramount. Close internal engagements with human resources, security and environment, health and safety functions became the priority. Traditional external partnerships with suppliers had to be augmented with more engagement in interest groups looking at common challenges, such as deep cleaning solutions for technical environments and long-term effects of cleaning methods on sensitive equipment. Connectivity became king, and a mobile workforce was no longer optional. 

In this environment, volume partnerships with communication providers ensured uninterrupted productivity for remote workers. Clear, frequent and transparent communication and reporting have never become more essential or required more consistency. Written words often lend themselves to multiple interpretations while answers to questions lead to a plethora of sub-questions. Real-time group and individual engagements preempt the weaknesses of multiple interpretations of mass emails.

Nothing has made the world a smaller place than this pandemic. Awareness and detailed knowledge of the differences in intra-country and global regulations have become a priority wherever any aspect of the business had interdependencies outside its immediate geography. Operating decisions for the short- and long-term called for gathering perspectives in discussion groups along with using instinct and insight for dealing with unknowns. As many of us experienced firsthand, dealing with conventional disasters using associated documentation left large gaps between the questions of "what to do?" and "how to do it?"

Because of this experience, organizations need to rethink their approach for BCM with focus on at least the following elements:

• Infrastructure enhancements and security hardening for large-scale remote working

• Process development for physical access with appropriate restrictions in the workplace

• Synchronization of regular and emergency communications for extended periods of time

• Workforce lifeboat analysis and development of competence redundancies

• Detailed short-term and flexible succession plans to maintain "command" and "control"

• Development and inclusion of external partnerships in the areas of health science

Modification of BCM documentation to handle multiple disasters given the pandemic has been in a continuum, and businesses have had to also manage through disruptions, for example, as those caused by severe weather events.

As for any type of business disruption, the cost of preparation and minimization of impact could be driven by cost-benefit analyses. We should always remember that the impacts are protracted over an unknown extended period and that the benefits of prioritizing our humanity are not so easy to quantify. Adding more machine and technical redundancy solutions does not take care of the human requirements. Our resilience as humans has never been put more to the test or required more mutual support than during this time.

The views in the article do not represent or reflect Ericsson and are the sole views of the author. 

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Philip Samson

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Business Continuity Planning in COVID-19

What to do if you had no plan or if your plan isn't working

school business continuity plan covid 19

The purpose of a business continuity plan is to ensure that your business is able to survive a critical incident. It permits an immediate response to crisis in order to shorten recovery time and mitigate impact. This pandemic has presented a "critical incident" for the world like no other. With unknown reach and duration, worldwide implications and no precedent to accurately base projections, it is fair to say we are in unchartered territories.

As the world reacts to COVID-19, it is likely not an ideal time for management to focus on developing complex business continuity plans. However, some key business continuity planning points may help your organization enhance its recovery time and trajectory. Once you are on your way through the recovery phase of this pandemic, you can then begin the exercise of reviewing and renewing your business continuity plan - using the lessons learned from COVID-19 to bolster your plan, increase efficiencies and allow you to respond more efficiently to future critical incidents.

While you consider the basics of business continuity planning - keep in mind that in order to succeed, you should prioritize critical business activities, stabilize cash flow, extend financial resources to keep operational and maintain your reputation.

How do business continuity plans help

A business continuity plan functions in phases:

school business continuity plan covid 19

Prevention is built upon the risk management principles of identify, analyze, evaluate and treat your risks. Preparedness focuses on analyzing the impact of events on an organization. It helps prioritize key functions, personnel, equipment, offerings and activities that could be impacted by a critical incident. Response is a plan detailing the list of steps to take immediately before (if possible), during and following an incident in order to contain, control and minimize impacts. Finally, recovery planning is the organization's roadmap to minimize disruption and reduce the amount of time it takes to achieve recovery.

Although it is reasonable to conclude that we are in the response phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, for many organizations, the stages of the crisis associated with this pandemic are just picking up speed. Meaning, there is still time to consider all four of the phases - prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.

1. Prevention

Consider the risks that your organization could face in the months ahead - do not stop with the obvious ones; dig deep, speak to employees and to stakeholders, look at competitors and at similar industries. For example, if your business has been designated an essential service, you have likely considered the health and safety concerns and may have provided staff with personal protective equipment (PPE); however, the use of PPE also creates additional risks like the issue of its acquisition - is there sufficient supply of PPE? Do you have multiple distributors in case one source is not available? If not, can you find alternate sources?

As you identify your risks, review your service lines one by one and consider how they might operate in this COVID-19 environment. Think critically about what might go wrong so that you are prepared should those eventualities occur. It is also important to have a plan in the event that one of your employees show symptoms of/tests positive for COVID-19 - including, employee self-reporting, income compensation programs or availability, corporate reporting obligations, self-isolation requirements, notification protocols. The employee self-reporting requirements should be communicated to all employees and updated in accordance with PHAC guidance.

While it may seem like a simple or obvious task, it can be quite difficult to identify all the risks that your organization may be facing - particularly in the first months of a global pandemic that could impact the world economy beyond anything we have experienced in our lifetimes.

school business continuity plan covid 19

When thinking about your risks, you can use various risk identification tools to help with the brainstorming. One such tool is the risk quadrant. As you identify your initial strategic, operational, financial and hazard risks, you can then consider how each of these individual risks will snowball to create others. Each risk that you identify can trigger multiple secondary risks, each of which need to be considered. We have prepared a non-exhaustive list of risks organizations could be facing as a result of this pandemic, which can be found here . This is a general list and does not reflect all of the risks that your organization may be confronted with. It may also include risks that are not applicable to your organization. It is meant purely as a list to provoke thought and assist you in the development of your own list of corporate risks.

Once you have identified your risks, analyze them for likelihood and impact. Make a heat map, list every risk you have identified on your map and continuously update it as you move forward. This exercise will help you determine which risks you should address first and prioritize your focus moving forward.

school business continuity plan covid 19

Evaluate the consequences of these risks materializing and think of ways you can mitigate - or treat - these risks. For example, do you rely entirely on one supplier? What happens if that supplier closes its doors? Can you start diversifying your supply chain now so that if one supplier is impacted you can rely on others? Have a clear plan of action for every identified risk. This will help you navigate the unpredictable.

Given that one of the key risks facing all organizations is the financial implication of the pandemic, look at your short-term liquidity. Become more disciplined in your cash flow monitoring so that you can react quickly to reduce unnecessary exposures. Reduce or eliminate all non-essential expenses and look at ways to raise capital. Monitor supply chain issues that could result in operational and financial exposures that could cripple your business unless remediation measures are implemented. If you would like more information regarding government funding programs please go here .

As you are addressing risks during COVID-19, look to your existing contracts, leases and insurance policies. In your contracts and leases, look for force majeure, delay, relief and excusable conditions clauses. As you work with stakeholders through this process, renegotiate contracts wisely - be on the alert for cost escalations, long-term obligations and contingencies that may be out of your control.

2. Preparedness

What is your organization's critical business activity? Who are your critical personnel? What are the vital elements of your supply chain? Answering these questions is critical to conducting a business impact analysis.

Have contingency plans in place for modifying your activities going forward. You may not be able to offer services the way you previously did - virtually instead of in person? delivery instead of on-site? Maybe you will change the services that you offer entirely - producing hand sanitizer instead of beer? building ventilators instead of vacuums? Consider these eventualities so that you are positioned to transition when necessary.

Should you need to transition, be aware of the added risks that come with these changes, update your heat map and re-evaluate your mitigation steps to ensure that you are protected once these changes come into effect.

Also, ensure that you identify and source all the resources necessary to support these key activities. If possible, do so before you need to transition.

Should you be unable to perform your key activities (or source alternatives), consider what the impact would be on your business. Is there any mitigating measure you could put in place to reduce that impact? Are there any forms of assistance that you can make use of to prolong your business' survival?

As for your key personnel, make sure that you have delegates who can step in should they become incapacitated. Have key information, including plans (business continuity, incident response, recovery), policies (insurance, corporate), financial data, key agreements and contact lists available, such that the delegates have access to the key information necessary to keep your business running. This information is often found in a corporate emergency tool kit. If you do not have an emergency tool kit in place already, start compiling one such that should a key personnel handoff become necessary, the emergency tool kit can act as the delegate's guidebook forward.

3. Response

Your incident response plan is your roadmap of what to do in the face of a critical incident. These plans vary based upon the triggering event, your organization's size, structure and business activity.

First is activation: who has authority to activate the plan and in what circumstances.

Second is team: who is involved in the response. Depending on the size of your organization, this may range from all hands on deck to a select portion of the leadership team. Large organizations may have sub-groups charged with various elements of the plan. The key personnel should also have alternates in the event they become incapacitated. If your organization has various departments, it is important to have representatives from the legal, finance and human resources departments. It is also helpful to have a person appointed as secretary to record discussions and track all action items.

Third is communication. This is both an internal and external issue. On the internal side, the plan must address how all members of your organization receive communication in various circumstances. Do you have an emergency communication mechanism (like "Send Word Now") to send updates to employees in a crisis? Is there a contact list with all employees' personal phone and email addresses? Externally, you should have a list of all emergency services you may need to reach, all customers and clients who you might need to access and all suppliers and producers who you may be relying upon.

Fourth is recording. You should have an event log to record all relevant information, decisions and actions taken during the crisis. This will be an invaluable tool when addressing any liability concerns raised during the crisis (breach of contract, employment disputes, health & safety allegations, privacy breaches, etc.) but also as a debriefing tool to use once the dust settles and you are able to reflect on what was done well and what could have been done better. This log will prove very important as you create or renew your business continuity plan post-pandemic.

4. Recovery

As we push through this crisis, think of the recovery phase. Your recovery plan will assist you to respond effectively so that you can minimize loss and reduce the time necessary for recovery. The basic question asked in your recovery planning is "how will you get your business back in line after a crisis".

Timing: Consider the realistic amount of time it would take your business to recover from being unable to engage in its critical business activities (as identified in the business impact analysis). You may have multiple critical business activities depending up on the nature of your operations and, if that is the case, each one should have its own recovery timeframe.

Strategies: Consider what your business needs to operate and develop strategies that prioritize the key elements of your operation. Some sample strategies:

  • Retrieve your emergency tool kit (or collect all of the information that should be in the kit);
  • Identify a recovery team or teams: identify key people who are tasked with focusing on the recovery of individual aspects of the business;
  • Communicate: keep communication open, frequent and transparent with internal and external stakeholders;
  • Identify Alternatives: look at what you need to keep your operation running and identify alternative suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, locations, facilities, equipment, etc. that you could use in order to keep operational;
  • Keep operational: consider ways to reduce operating costs and/or increase alternate sources of cash flow so that your business can survive through the crisis;
  • Monitor the process using a checklist: this checklist reminds you to do all the things you should be during the crisis (recording information, communicating information, contacting the right people, seeking support from all available resources, obtaining tax advise and assistance, and reviewing your recovery). Gowling WLG's checklist can be provided to you upon request to Gowling WLG partner Jahmiah Ferdinand-Hodkin.

As it pertains to COVID-19, this recovery plan will gear you towards the questions of when and how you will be returning to normal business operations and what that "new normal" may look like for your organization. As there are so many unknowns at present, this plan may include multiple contingencies that you can narrow as various government decisions and funding programs are announced.

What to do now

If you do not have a plan or your plan isn't working, please do consider these steps, tricks and tools to help you navigate this crisis. These tools can be implemented by organization presently closed as well as those operating as essential services. For additional information regarding how to bolster your business continuity plan and manage incidents as you move though this pandemic, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Business continuity and COVID-19: lessons learned


Financier Worldwide Magazine

school business continuity plan covid 19

May 2022 Issue

Adapt and survive or wither and die. That was the invidious scenario foisted upon many companies throughout the course of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – a predicament that also served as a wake-up call for business continuity processes and their real-world application.

For sure, the pandemic exposed myriad process inadequacies. While the efforts of some companies to maintain their business operations went relatively smoothly, others were less fortunate, finding that their processes were not up to scratch and essentially incapable of adapting to the pandemic-generated ‘new normal’.

“COVID-19 turned business continuity planning on its head, as it forced companies around the world to rethink their operations and, in many cases, embrace totally new models for work,” says Tim Minahan, executive vice president of business strategy at Citrix. “While many had begun moving toward remote work as part of their business continuity plans, few were prepared to do so at the speed and scale the pandemic required.”

According to Agility Recovery’s ‘Business Continuity Lessons Learned from COVID-19’ report, the top challenges companies faced in responding to COVID-19 were supporting the health and safety of their employees, followed by maintaining employee productivity and morale, which the report states is proof that many companies struggled to adapt to a work-from-home strategy.

“Many companies were reluctant to consider ‘work-from-home’ a recovery solution before the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Doug Langley, a senior consultant at Agility Recovery. “In the early days of the crisis, most transitioned to work-from-home, but now we are finding more than 80 percent of companies tell us they are in a ‘hybrid’ mode. Now, companies are redoing their risk profiles, recognising home working as a viable option.

“Those companies that had not implemented a work-from-home plan scrambled and adjusted to successfully execute and continue operations,” he continues. “And although the changes they implemented established a solid foundation, they should not assume they will be able to execute if an emergency impacts access to their facilities.”

Furthermore, the need to adapt so quickly also meant that companies had to re-evaluate their business models, especially where lockdowns caused problems for those that had complex and globally interconnected supply chains, or where face to face interactions were curtailed.

“Over the last two years-plus, it has been difficult for companies to deliver business as usual, while keeping up with the accelerating pace of change,” says Quentin Dunstan, organisational resilience market development manager at BSI. “The impact of COVID -19 created huge uncertainty in markets and leaders had to find ways of working around the challenge and ensure that colleagues were kept safe, and jobs safeguarded wherever possible.”

Learning lessons

As we begin to move beyond the most severe ravages of the pandemic, it is critical that companies validate their ability to execute a range of business continuity strategies – proving that they have learned from the harsh lessons that COVID-19 has taught them.

“Worker shortages and supply chain disruptions sparked by the pandemic challenged companies around the world to find new ways to maintain continuity,” asserts Mr Minahan. “Savvy companies placed digital workspace technologies at the heart of their business continuity strategies, and in doing so, gained the agility, speed and efficiency required to manage resources in the dynamic way that today’s business environment demands.”

So, while COVID-19 has indeed instigated a great deal of organisational change, according to KPMG, there are 10 key business continuity lessons, outlined below, that companies have particularly learned off the back of the pandemic.

First, all companies need to prepare for unexpected situations. Many companies sent their employees to work from home during the pandemic but did not have laptops or videoconferencing available. These companies did not manage risks associated with an interruption of business activities at all or completely inadequately.

“ Forward-thinking companies’ stance will be to create and review easily accessible business continuity plans – a game changing posture that will increase their resilience and allow them to structure their operations to adapt to a rapidly evolving landscape. ”

Second, processes to keep, and those to set aside. It is not possible to control all processes. Therefore, companies must focus on protecting those that are most important. These include processes that add value to customers or are essential for the operation of a company, such as production and call centres, and communication tools.

Third, do a thorough risk analysis and think about probability and impacts. Many companies have forgotten that a low probability does not mean a low risk. A low probability with a huge impact signifies a big risk. COVID-19 pandemic has taught companies to think of all situations that may arise.

Fourth, recovery plans are not enough. Continuity not only addresses system failures, but also the need to increase performance in the short term. Companies should define what procedures they will use to secure alternate supplies and train their employees in other positions they can fill.

Fifth, update plans at least once a year. An initial risk analysis should be reviewed at least every year or after each major organisational change. If the risks have remained the same, a company will not have to change the plan, but changes bring the need to rewrite the whole plan.

Sixth, practice recovery and continuity plans every year. Recovery and continuity plans are often left somewhere in a filing cabinet, all dusty. Ideally, every employee must know the plans, and everybody should know what the announcement of the plan means for them.

Seventh, manage continuity continuously. Continuity management is one continuous process which companies need to manage in compliance with guidelines and policies. It should also have its own strategy and manager. Furthermore, mistakes and issues should be recorded and learned from, with plans adjusted accordingly.

Eighth, do not subordinate continuity to operations. Companies often incorporate continuity management under operations. However, it is business that is responsible for protecting key activities such as continuity management. Therefore, companies should keep continuity management separate and ensure it is not adapted to the needs of operations.

Ninth, risk management must be aligned with suppliers. It is important that companies coordinate the protection of important activities with their suppliers. Any supplier can fail. So it is important to have others on standby who can jump in quickly and supply anything necessary. A stock of essential materials and parts should also be kept.

Finally, crises never come alone. Amid multiple crises, companies should have a team ready that will prioritise and coordinate solutions to all problems. They can also contract backup capacities with partners in advance, helping them out before they manage to restore processes.

“With governments across the globe having been forced to take action to protect their citizens throughout the pandemic, there were many things that were outside companies’ control,” observes Mr Dunstan. “However, an important lesson was that every country would go through distinct phases from survival through to getting back to the ‘new normal’.

“And while these phases were dependent on the extent and speed of spread of the virus, it enabled companies to plan despite the heightened level of uncertainty,” he continues. “Another lesson learned was that predicting the shape of the ‘bounce back’ was very difficult and what transpired was the sum of many individual actions rather than one confident point of change.”

Business continuity planning

One of the core components of business continuity is to have recourse to an effective business continuity plan – an ideally bespoke programme that can protect a company from the consequences of a major incident, such as financial losses, a damaged reputation and lost productivity.

According to Agility Recovery, companies should consider an all-hazards approach to ongoing business continuity planning and testing, including: (i) implementing pre-disaster actions to ensure a constant state of readiness and take steps to safeguard assets and vital records if an early warning is received; (ii) communicating disaster preparedness and response efforts before, during and after an emergency to keep clients, employees and regulators fully aware of the situation; (iii) utilising a cross-section of people to develop, test and implement disaster preparedness and response plans; (iv) ensuring backups are available for not only data but also personnel, worksites, vendors, equipment and other resources; and (v) treating disaster preparedness and response plans as ‘living documents’ to be updated as circumstances change.

“Business continuity testing has never been more important,” insists Mr Langley. “No longer are we just responding to a hurricane; we are responding to a hurricane causing flooding and outages during a pandemic. Organisations need to use scenarios in testing that include simultaneous incidents leading to multiple impacts with components based on lessons learned during the pandemic.

“Include all potential stakeholders such as board members, customers and third parties, and if an event is long lasting, such as the pandemic, consider after-action reviews throughout the incident,” he continues. “Companies have an increased appreciation of resilience since the beginning of the pandemic and expect leadership to impart their knowledge throughout the organisation.”

Also, what cannot be understated is the importance of good leadership. “Good leadership is essential at a time of continuing uncertainty,” says Mr Dunstan. “While no-one can predict the future with certainty, leaders can operate within the parameters of what is known and can be controlled. For some, this will involve how to ensure their companies survive, while others may see opportunities that their organisations can explore and create value from.”

Game changer

As the recovery from the pandemic continues, forward-thinking companies’ stance will be to create and review easily accessible business continuity plans – a game changing posture that will increase their resilience and allow them to structure their operations to adapt to a rapidly evolving landscape.

“The extended duration of the pandemic has confirmed for many that there is a real need to have a plan when the unexpected occurs,” notes Mr Langley. “There appears to a be a heightened recognition of the value of planning ahead and we have a window of opportunity to transition that heightened awareness into solid action.

“On top of the pandemic, there are other pressures which are causing changes in behaviour, such as the reduction in airline travel, the drive to carbon neutrality, climate change and sustainability,” he continues. “So, while COVID-19 has been an accelerant of change, there are many other game changers that are now coming into the focus of leaders, and these will all impact business continuity over time.”

For Mr Dunstan, leadership is a key component of how companies respond to the impact of a global event. “The realisation that such events can actually happen, means that leaders will be required to take a longer term view of their company’s direction of travel and performance,” he concludes. “The pandemic has been a game changer in that business is unlikely to return to the way it was prior to the pandemic, but there will be equilibrium in the ‘next or new normal’.”

© Financier Worldwide

Fraser Tennant

Business continuity in the COVID-19 emergency: A framework of actions undertaken by world-leading companies


  • 1 University of Salento, Campus Ecotekne, Via Monteroni s.n., 73100 Lecce (LE), Italy.
  • 2 Centre for Collaborative Research (CCR), Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Rehtorinpellonkatu 3, FI-20500 Turku, Finland.
  • PMID: 33558777
  • PMCID: PMC7859707
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.bushor.2021.02.020

The COVID-19 emergency has urged companies to operate in new ways to face supply chain interruptions, shifts in customer demand, and risks to workforce health. The organizational ability to respond to critical contingencies is crucial for business leaders in the perspective of continuing business. In our research, we investigate the actions undertaken by 50 world-leading corporations to respond to the pandemic. Applying content analysis to web pages and social network posts, we extract 77 actions related to 13 sub-areas and integrate these into a five-level framework that encompasses operations, customer, workforce, leadership, and community-related responses. We also describe six illustrative company examples of how the emergency can generate opportunities for creating new value. The study advances the scholarly discussion on the impact of emergencies on business continuity and can help leaders define response strategies and actions in the current challenge.

Keywords: Business continuity; COVID-19; Framework; Operations; Responses; Value creation; Workforce.

© 2021 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. Published by Elsevier Inc.

Top tips for creating a business continuity plan in a post-COVID world

Imagine you’re in charge of an international financial institution that controls a third of all the money in the world. Your systems handle hundreds of thousands of global wire transfers per day, operating at lightning speed.

Now imagine that a fire breaks out in one of the buildings containing parts of your IT infrastructure. Do you know how this will affect your daily operations and your clients? Are you prepared for these types of emergencies?

While a fire may sound like an extreme example, when it comes to figuring out business continuity plans, the same rules apply to every organization, big or small. 

To ensure that your mission-critical processes can continue regardless of what’s happening in the world, you must first assume that the vital components of the whole system are failing and then prepare a workaround. Oftentimes, all you need is a short-term replacement rather than a permanent solution. Unfortunately, many businesses aren’t prepared for unexpected interruptions—as evidenced by COVID-19.

In my role helping organizations on their quest for innovation, I talk to customers every day about the challenges they face. Many say COVID-19 has made them painfully aware that crises can happen quickly, and the consequences can be severe. These customers are realizing just how vulnerable their organizations truly are.

You may be wondering how to put a plan together for the next disruption and where to even begin. The good news is that you don’t have to predict the next crisis and all the challenges that come with it. 

Just like a human body needs vaccines to build immunity against potential illnesses, your organization needs a business continuity plan to face the future without fear.

Let’s take a look at some of the steps to lay the groundwork and boost your operational resilience.

Impact analysis and recovery strategy

The key to business continuity is to replace uncertainty with a clear vision of how to cope with potential disasters. Some situations might affect only one element of your operations, while others might affect everything. The more complex we assume the problem is, the more important it is to document and prepare an alternative solution.

I often recommend that my clients use diagramming software to visually document their environments. When considering your software options, make sure that your learning curve is very low, so you won’t need to spend weeks learning to use it when you’re mapping out your risk and failover scenarios.

To prepare your recovery strategy:

  • Assess and document crucial workflows and the resources that support them. A process map or flowchart can visually explain what tasks are involved, who is responsible, and the order of operations.
  • Consider potential loss scenarios. Don’t just think about natural disasters, but also technical failures, lost sales and income, and regulatory fines.
  • Appoint a business continuity team that’s highly familiar with the company’s workflow. Create an easy-to-read organizational chart highlighting the succession of management and delegation of authority. Some diagramming software allows you to easily pull charts directly from an employee database . 
  • Implement a plan to quickly re-establish your business’s crucial functions. This could include relocating operations to another facility in the case of an emergency. Using floor charts linked to data can help you make these big decisions ahead of time. 
  • Develop a relocation plan for your team, including employees who can’t perform their job functions remotely. Make sure everyone has access to necessary data, software tools, and a secure internet connection.
  • Conduct trainings to test and evaluate your plan. For example, will your employees know what to do if there’s an earthquake? Constantly challenge your own assumptions. 

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IT recovery plan

Now that you have a plan for your operations, teams, and infrastructure, let’s talk about IT. Your organization has probably accumulated large volumes of data, some of which is crucial to your business’s survival. You need to think about backup and restoration before challenges arise.

  • Remember that IT systems rely on hardware, software, and connectivity. Be prepared to deal with the loss of one or more elements. Start with an inventory of critical software applications, and make sure copies are available for a quick recovery. Schedule regular backups from wireless devices and desktop computers.
  • Using diagramming software, create a visual map of your assets, such as IT equipment, and link those diagrams to external databases.
  • As you identify IT resources that support time-sensitive business functions and processes, consider moving your digital assets and business operations to the cloud temporarily or permanently.
  • Establish recovery time and recovery point objectives for each critical business process in case of downtimes and data loss. Synchronize data between several data centers for critical business applications.
  • Move your communication technologies to external software as a service (SaaS) systems in case of a disruption.

Lessons learned

Business continuity, process documentation, and working through potential disruption scenarios are critical to your company’s success. Moreover, their true value will become immediately apparent in times of crisis.

A well-executed business continuity plan:

  • Enables creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Challenges the core of your business model.
  • Provides a vision or clarifies the next steps needed for crisis management.
  • Streamlines communication throughout the entire company.
  • Provides a sense of stability during challenging times.

Putting a disaster recovery plan together may be a long and meticulous process, but the lessons we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated that it’s crucial for the long-term health and well-being of any organization.

Take action now to create and review your business continuity plans; don’t wait until you’re facing a crisis.

About the author

Senaj Lelic is the Managing Director of oneAssist GmbH Information in Berlin, Germany . He   helps companies visualize and successfully communicate corporate information and data through   BPM  p ortals,  d ashboards ,  and  v isual  solutions for product configuration and data handling.  

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Business Continuity Planning During The COVID-19 Pandemic

The element of surprise is often part of an attacker's strategy; therefore, it is not uncommon for a disastrous attack to occur without any warning. For example, it is difficult to predict ransomware or an APT attack. Most incidents are unique, and the organizations must have the proper plans to recover quickly, minimizing downtime. Without a contingency plan, surviving from sudden incidents can take longer and cost the organization more money because of the loss of reputation and productivity.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have found it is critical to creating a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) if they don't already have one. Otherwise, they must review and update the existing ones to respond effectively to sudden incidents, especially the ones raised during the ongoing pandemic.

A BCP describes how a business will continue operating during an unscheduled disruption in service. The BCP will list the different procedures and provide instructions on what should be done when a disaster takes place, such as a flood, an earthquake, or in the case of a cyberattack (e.g., ransomware).

BCP covers all work aspects that affect an organization's work, such as business processes and functions, human resources, third-party providers, and business partners. Many people confuse the BCP and the Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). There is a clear distinction between the two. For instance, DRP is considered a sub-component of BCP and deals directly with restoring IT infrastructure and other related services after a crisis. In contrast, BCP looks at the comprehensive picture and restores the entire enterprise after a crisis.

This article will discuss developing a general BCP to respond to sudden incidents during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the aspects of technical and compliance regulations.

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General elements of a BCP during the COVID-19 pandemic

Before expanding on the main elements of a BCP, consider the following three points:

  • Defining the types of disasters applicable to an organization's work area; for example, earthquake, fire, flood, power or Internet outage, general lockdown, and cyberattacks, such as ransomware or APT attacks.
  • Consider in-house resources to help create the BCP. Examples of such resources include Incident response plans, policies, procedures, existing business continuity plans.
  • List all possible business assets that may be affected during the incident or pandemic.

Having this info in hand will help to develop a general BCP.

First: Communication

Having reliable communications is the most crucial element in a BCP. The pandemic has forced most companies to shift their workforce to adopt the work-from-home model. A BCP should address the type of communication during the pandemic and the person/s responsible for managing these communications. The following areas should be defined:

  • What are your organization's communication needs? For example, do you need to communicate with external partners and third-party providers, do you need to communicate with customers? Is there a need for internal communications between the different departments?
  • Define communications methods: Are you going to communicate via phone, fax, email, or group chat. Are you going to use video conferencing services, like Zoom, to make remote meetings?
  • Identify the person or team members responsible for delivering and supporting organization communications.

Second: Technology

This section includes remote access, applications, and backup requirements.

Remote access : Since the pandemic has forced most organizations to access their resources remotely, consider these questions: How will employees connect remotely? Via remote desktop connection, VPN, or another service provided by using a third-party provider?

Also, consider who is allowed to connect remotely and to which resources. Is the remote connection secure? Is the handling of remote data done securely?

Applications : Identify the primary services and applications needed to continue the normal work operations. If transitioning to work-from-home, are employees still able to use this program or service remotely?

Backup : What are our business backup requirements? Are we going to store the backup offsite or onsite? Are we doing regular backup testing to test the efficiency of our backup solution?

Third: Compliance Requirements

Compliance standards impose strict restrictions on remote access, authentication, and authorization mechanisms. Hence, an organization should understand its compliance requirements and align them into its BCP, especially if remote access is implemented as a part of the BCP procedures.

Fourth: Policies & Procedures

Policies are developed according to the organization's current technologies and work processes. A BCP needs to document the various procedures necessary for remote connection, endpoint device configurations, and password policy. Organizations should make sure that all employees understand these policies and know how to implement them properly.

Fifth: Updates

A BCP should remain current to reflect the work environment changes, procedures, and technologies used.

Business continuity is a top priority for any organization, whether it is a small company or a big enterprise. Remaining operational means sustaining a customer base and staying competitive in an ever-challenging world. A business's ability to restore its IT functions plays an important role in responding to sudden incidents; however, what about the rest of the functions? A BCP is an organization's response to remain operational as a whole during an unexpected crisis.

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US government shutdown: What is it and who would be affected?

Sept 29 (Reuters) - U.S. government services would be disrupted and hundreds of thousands of federal workers would be told not to work if Congress fails to provide funding for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. Workers deemed essential would remain on the job. Almost all workers would not be paid.

Here is a guide to what would stay open and what would shut down, according to agency shutdown plans :

The 2 million U.S. military personnel would remain at their posts, but roughly half of the Pentagon's 800,000 civilian employees would be furloughed -- ordered not to work.

Contracts awarded before the shutdown would continue, and the Pentagon could place new orders for supplies or services needed to protect national security. Other new contracts, including renewals or extensions, would not be awarded . Payments to defense contractors such as Boeing (BA.N) , Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) and RTX (RTX.N) , formerly known as Raytheon, could be delayed.

The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration would continue maintaining nuclear weapons.


Agents at the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other federal law enforcement agencies would remain on the job , and prison staffers would continue to work.

The Secret Service and the Coast Guard would also continue operations, and most employees would continue to work.

Most of the Federal Trade Commission's consumer-protection workers would be furloughed, as would half of its antitrust employees.


The Social Security Administration would continue to issue retirement and disability benefits, though the agency might have to delay its announcement of its annual increase in payments.

Payments would likewise continue under the Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs.

Military veterans' benefits would also continue, according to a 2021 contingency plan.

Nutrition benefits provided to 7 million mothers through the Women, Infants and Children program would be cut within days, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Food aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would go out as normal for October, but could be affected after that.


National parks, monuments and other sites would be closed to the public, though it will be impossible to keep visitors out of many of them. Rangers would be furloughed and restrooms, help desks and other facilities would be shuttered.

Some states may use their own money to keep parks and other sites open, as happened in the 2018-2019 shutdown.

Wildfire fighting efforts would continue, according to the Agriculture Department's 2020 contingency plan, though timber sales on national forest lands would be curtailed and fewer recreation permits would be issued.

The Smithsonian museums that line the National Mall have enough money on hand to stay open for about a week after a shutdown, as would the National Zoo. After that, they would close to the public, though zoo staffers would continue to care for animals.


Most Border Patrol and immigration enforcement agents would continue to work, as would most customs officers.

Local governments would not get new aid to shelter migrants.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency would suspend security reviews that help schools, local governments and other institutions defend against ransomware.


Federal courts have enough money to stay open until at least Oct. 13 . Activities might be scaled back after that point. The Supreme Court would stay open as well.

Criminal prosecutions, including the two federal cases against former President Donald Trump , would continue. Most civil litigation would be postponed. The government's landmark Google antitrust lawsuit would continue.

Lawmakers would continue to collect paychecks, even as other federal workers do not. Staffers would not get paid, though those deemed essential would be required to work.


Airport security screeners and air-traffic control workers would be required to work, according to recent contingency plans, though absenteeism could be a problem. Some airports had to suspend operations during a shutdown in 2019 when traffic controllers called in sick.

Training for 1,000 new air-traffic controllers would stop, leaving the system understaffed. The Transportation Security Administration would not be able to hire new airport security screeners ahead of the busy holiday travel season.

Some major infrastructure projects could face delays because environmental reviews and permitting would be disrupted, according to the White House.


U.S. embassies and consulates would remain open. Passport and visa processing would continue as long as there were sufficient fees to cover operations. Nonessential official travel, speeches and other events would be curtailed.

Some foreign aid programs could run out of money as well.

Scientific research would be disrupted as agencies like the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would furlough most of their workers once they run out of funding.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would continue to support the International Space Station and track satellites, but 17,000 of its 18,300 employees would be furloughed.

A general view of the U.S. Capitol in Washington

[1/5] A general view of the U.S. Capitol, where Congress will return Tuesday to deal with a series of spending bills before funding runs out and triggers a partial U.S. government shutdown, in Washington, U.S. September 25, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst Acquire Licensing Rights

Weather forecasts and fisheries regulation would continue, as would patent and trademark reviews. Tests of new drugs and medical devices would continue.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would suspend consumer-protection activities, equipment reviews, and licensing of TV and radio stations. It would continue to distribute telecommunications subsidies and its broadband mapping effort.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would continue to monitor disease outbreaks, though other public health activities could suffer as more than half of the agency's workers would be furloughed.

The National Institutes of Health would furlough most of its staff and delay new clinical trials for medical treatments.

Healthcare services for military veterans and Native Americans would continue.

Most inspections of hazardous waste sites and drinking water and chemical facilities would stop.

Food-safety inspections by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could be delayed.


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would furlough roughly 90% of its 4,600 employees and suspend most activities, leaving only a skeleton staff to respond to emergencies.

Likewise, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) would furlough almost all of its employees and cease most oversight activity.

The Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency would continue as normal because they are funded by industry fees rather than congressional appropriations.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), an industry-financed brokerage oversight body, would continue to operate.

The Treasury Department would continue to issue debt and manage the government's cash position.


The publication of major U.S. economic data, including employment and inflation reports of critical importance to policymakers and investors, would be suspended .


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would stop examining and auditing tax returns and responding to taxpayer queries. Automated tax collection would continue, as would processing of green-energy tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act. Roughly two-thirds of the agency's 90,000 employees would be furloughed.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would be at risk of running out of disaster-relief funds. The agency is already delaying payments to some long-term recovery projects in order to keep money on hand for more immediate relief during the hurricane and wildfire seasons.

Pell Grants and student loans would continue to be paid, but could be disrupted as most Education Department employees would be furloughed, according to the agency's 2021 plan.

A protracted shutdown could "severely curtail" aid to schools, universities and other educational institutions, the department says. It also could delay funds that are due to be awarded later in the year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would continue to operate locks, dams and flood control facilities. Most employees would not be furloughed.

According to the White House, 10,000 children from low-income families would lose access to the Head Start preschool program.


The Small Business Administration would not be able to issue any new loans, though loans for businesses hurt by natural disasters would continue.


Meat and egg inspections would continue, but some lab services would be disrupted, making it harder to fight animal diseases. Crop insurance would not be affected, but some loan programs would be. Research, conservation and rural development programs would be shut down.

Workplace safety inspections would be limited, and investigations into unfair pay practices would be suspended, according to the White House.

The ability of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to mediate labor disputes would be curtailed because almost all of its 1,200 employees would be furloughed, according to a 2022 plan.

Monthly subsidies for public housing and low-income housing aid would be at risk. The Federal Housing Administration would continue to back insured mortgages, and Ginnie Mae would continue to back the secondary mortgage market. New homebuyers in rural areas would not be able to get loans from the Agriculture Department.


In the 2018-2019 shutdown, the White House furloughed 1,100 of 1,800 staff in the Executive Office of the President. Some offices, such as the National Security Council, continued at full strength, while others like the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) were scaled back sharply.

White House furloughs could make it harder for Republicans in the House of Representatives to get information for their impeachment investigation of Democratic President Joe Biden.

The U.S. Constitution specifies that the president continues to get paid.


The U.S. Postal Service would be unaffected because it does not depend on Congress for funding.

Reporting by Andy Sullivan, Pete Schroeder, Howard Schneider, Moira Warburton, Nate Raymond, Makini Brice, Steve Holland, Chris Prentice, David Lawder, Brad Brooks, Diane Bartz, Andrew Chung and Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis and Aurora Ellis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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U.S. braces for costly government shutdown

Federal workers and military service members won’t be paid, while federal programs — from some food safety inspections to child-care funds — will come to an abrupt halt.

school business continuity plan covid 19

Millions of federal employees and active military service members will stop receiving paychecks — but many will be forced to report to work anyway.

Some national parks may close, museums could shutter and airports nationwide might see new disruptions and delays.

And the most pivotal federal aid programs — including those assisting the victims of the deadly wildfires in Maui — might not be able to provide urgently needed support.

On Oct. 1, the U.S. government is set to shut down , unleashing real and wide-ranging financial hardship on American families, workers and businesses. The lapse in funding would mark a fundamental breakdown in an ever-divided, intransigent Washington, where Republicans’ demands this year have prevented Congress — time and again — from easily fulfilling its most basic fiscal responsibilities.

In an ominous sign, the Biden administration on Friday took the first steps to prepare government agencies for a potential stoppage, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private discussions. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget told federal leaders to update their intricate blueprints for how they would operate if funds run dry, while it readied a draft communication that they could use to notify employees about the situation.

How a government shutdown could affect you

school business continuity plan covid 19

At the heart of the stalemate are renewed Republican calls for deep federal spending cuts, more than three months after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) finalized a deal with President Biden that was supposed to prevent this very brinkmanship. Far-right lawmakers have blocked the House in recent days from adopting a short-term measure that would sustain federal spending at its existing levels and buy more time for the two parties to work out a longer-term arrangement.

If Congress does not resolve the impasse before midnight on Friday, federal appropriations will expire, bringing many agencies to a halt and forcing the sprawling U.S. government to operate as a mere shell of itself.

As usual, mail deliveries would continue and seniors would still receive their Social Security checks, because they are not funded through annual appropriations. But older Americans might not be able to obtain new Medicare cards or address some other issues with their benefits until federal funding resumes.

Some federal inspections that ensure food safety and prevent the release of hazardous chemicals in drinking water would be halted, the Biden administration has warned. Federal research toward cancer cures and other innovative therapies would cease. Some passport offices would close if they are located in affected government buildings, potentially snarling some Americans’ plans for international travel.

And with each passing day, Washington would further deplete federal safety-net programs that carry over their unused money from past years. Eventually, the government might not be able to provide some poor families with child care, nutrition assistance, housing vouchers or college financial aid. The longer a shutdown persists, the greater the blow it could ultimately deliver to an economy that has teetered for more than a year on the precipice of recession.

“The solution is very, very simple. Extreme House Republicans need to stop playing political games with people’s lives,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday. “There’s so much at stake here.”

Poor families could see cuts to food aid as Congress battles over budget

For the moment, Congress continues to barrel toward another fiscal crisis , in a year that has already seen the U.S. government almost default on its debt. Far-right Republicans have made clear that they are willing to use pivotal deadlines — and the threat of economic catastrophe — to extract policy concessions from Biden and, at times, pressure leaders of their own party. McCarthy has largely acquiesced to their demands, even directing committees this month to open an impeachment inquiry into Biden to appease restive conservatives.

Last week, House lawmakers departed the Capitol with seemingly no resolution in sight, raising the odds that the country is now less than a week away from what would be the 21st shutdown since 1977 , when the United States shifted the start of its fiscal year to Oct. 1. The heaviest initial blow would fall on about 2.2 million federal employees who would not receive pay for as long as appropriations lapse, said Jacqueline Simon, the policy director of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal workers.

“Most Americans cannot go without a paycheck on payday,” she said. “The vast majority of our members cannot go even one pay period, let alone two, three, four pay periods, without a paycheck.”

The immediate loss of income would arrive as prices remain elevated from high inflation over the past year, and just before the U.S. government is about to resume requiring borrowers to repay their student loans. Many federal workers would not have to report to their jobs, but the government is likely to deem hundreds of thousands of its employees as “excepted” from the shutdown because they deal with national security or public safety.

Even in a shutdown, the nation’s approximately 1.3 million active-duty troops would also helm their stations without pay. Once federal funding resumes, though, the government is required by law to repay federal employees and military personnel. Federal contractors, however, would not be compensated for missed time.

While the Pentagon retains broad latitude to continue programs in the name of national security, top defense officials in recent days have signaled that a shutdown next month could prove unusually disruptive — even inhibiting their ability to provide some foreign military aid. That includes the supply of select materiel to Ukraine as it continues to fend off Russia, which some House Republicans oppose.

Appearing on Sept. 19 on Capitol Hill, Mira Resnick, the deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security, stressed that previous shutdowns have left her agency “unable to process new foreign military sales for any partner,” except in emergencies, before imploring lawmakers: “This is something we would like to avoid.”

Biden seeks $16 billion in disaster aid as Idalia, wildfires deplete federal funds

The lapse in funding could prove just as debilitating for Americans outside of government, especially those who are still recovering from recent wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The primary federal fund for disaster recovery has fallen to about $2.4 billion, a level that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has described as unsustainable amid hurricane season. FEMA spent more than that — about $2.6 billion — just in the first 30 days after Hurricane Ian struck Florida last year.

Last month, FEMA took the rare step to begin rationing its money, pausing about $1.5 billion in longer-term recovery projects to ensure it has enough cash on hand in the event of a major, deadly crisis, said Deanne Criswell, the agency’s administrator . Asked what might happen if those funds approach zero without new appropriations, Criswell told lawmakers at a hearing last week that the consequences could be dire.

“Given our current state,” she said, the fund balance “would be insufficient to cover all of our ongoing lifesaving operations.”

What to do if a federal government shutdown stops your paycheck

The most recent interruption in federal funding occurred under President Donald Trump , a 34-day lapse in appropriations beginning in the waning hours of 2018 that marked the longest shutdown in U.S. history. Trump held up government funding into January 2019 in an attempt to force Democrats to fund construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Ultimately, Trump did not secure the money as part of a deal to reopen the government in January, at which point the shutdown had already incurred great economic cost. That month, a federal budget watchdog estimated that the political stalemate had delayed about $18 billion in government spending, while reducing gross domestic product by an estimated $8 billion that quarter and interrupting a vast swath of American life.

Nationally, air passengers at the time saw significant delays: Unpaid for a month, some inspectors at the Transportation Security Administration — the federal agents who check bags and protect flights — stopped coming to work “due to the financial toll of the shutdown,” a trio of top airline union groups said then . Four years later, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association renewed its plea for congressional action, warning last week that the last shutdown imperiled “safety activities that proactively reduce risk,” before adding: “We cannot let history repeat itself.”

The exact economic effects of a shutdown may not be immediately evident, because some of the federal officials who produce and release data about inflation and unemployment might stop work as well. But a lapse in funding beyond a few weeks — on top of rising interest rates and other economic turbulence — could result in a “meaningful hit to growth,” predicted Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

“None of this is any good for the economy,” he said.

Two years after lawmakers approved a bipartisan bill to rejuvenate the economy and improve the country’s infrastructure, a failure to fund the government would leave it temporarily unable to approve some projects to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and internet connections.

“It hamstrings federal agencies, and there are a lot of them doing infrastructure work,” said Maria Lehman, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “There’s uncertainty on ongoing projects, [and] new projects can’t get underway.”

The United States would slow down its efforts to inspect workplaces for safety hazards, according to the White House, while the government would not be able to process new applications for loans to cash-starved small businesses. And federal agencies would face escalating challenges in providing critical economic support to Americans under financial duress.

Roughly 10,000 children would lose access to child care starting in October as a result of disruptions to Head Start, a program that provides grants to care organizations, according to the White House, which released its own estimate of shutdown implications Wednesday. Without those grants, some of these child-care centers probably would shutter, leaving parents struggling to balance family and work obligations.

The loss of funding would worsen what is already expected to be a child-care crisis this fall. Even if Congress does fund the government in time, lawmakers are not expected to renew pandemic-era funding that boosted child-care programs. That could result in the closure of 70,000 child-care centers, totaling 1 in 3 nationally, starting next month, experts have said.

Child care is about to get more expensive, as federal funds dry up

At the start of any shutdown, the U.S. government could continue to pay out food stamps and other nutrition aid, provide housing vouchers to low-income families, and process financial aid for the neediest college students. But federal agencies in recent days have signaled that they may have to dial back this support after October if the shutdown spans weeks or longer.

One of the programs — a food-and-vegetable benefit for women, infants and children known as WIC — may only be able to sustain its operations for a few days if federal appropriations lapse, according to the Agriculture Department. That could put roughly 7 million pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children up to age 5 at risk of benefit cuts that leave them hungry, the agency said Friday.

Some states, which manage WIC benefits, may have leftover funds that allow them to continue providing nutritional support even into a shutdown. But the relief is likely to prove short-lived, since the WIC program already faces a s ignificant budget shortfall, a gap that prompted the Biden administration this month to ask Congress for $1.4 billion in emergency aid.

Sharon Parrott, the president of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, pointed to the uncertainty as she acknowledged that millions of families could be at risk if congressional inaction causes a lengthy government shutdown.

“The longer a shutdown lasts,” she said, “the more problems would emerge.”

What to know about a possible government shutdown

The latest: With a federal government shutdown looming at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, the House failed Friday to approve a 30-day stopgap funding bill . Follow our live shutdown updates .

What federal services could be affected by a government shutdown :

  • WIC and SNAP services
  • Air travel, TSA and passports
  • Medicare and Medicaid benefits
  • IRS and tax returns
  • National parks

Federal employees and contractors : Which employees work during a shutdown ? Here’s a federal worker’s shutdown survival guide and what to do if the shutdown stops your paycheck . See where federal employees live in the U.S.


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