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As the country progresses through the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are beginning to reopen, buildings are accepting a limited number of employees and people are coming to grips with what appears to be a new normal. In the aftermath of this life-changing event, some things may change, including resilience activities. A post-pandemic recovery plan will affect an organization's incident response, business continuity and disaster recovery procedures.
Pre-pandemic business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plans were probably acceptable to an extent when the coronavirus first hit, but when businesses started closing and people began working remotely, the rules changed. While it's fundamentally good business to have BCDR and pandemic plans in place, established plans can be quickly superseded and rendered useless by factors completely out of an organization's control.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how organizations think about resilience, including pandemic response or recovery, and BCDR planning. What may have worked for organizations prior to the pandemic likely was insufficient, simply because a pandemic this serious and far-reaching has not occurred in over 100 years.
To craft a solid post-pandemic recovery plan, there are some key tools, products and services that can help support planning efforts. Since the coronavirus outbreak was first declared a pandemic, numerous leading firms in the resilience industry have introduced tools, templates and updates to automated systems that reflect intelligence gained from the current pandemic.
Templates and ready-to-use tools
Many firms have updated their existing tools and templates to better reflect their experiences and insight from the current pandemic. Most existing tools and templates have been largely unchanged and can still be used as before. When using a product that has not been updated to reflect the current pandemic, individual organizations should take care to ensure that the lessons they learned from the pandemic are reflected.
Automated resilience planning software systems are largely unchanged so far, except for revisions to some internal forms and templates, and some of the planning logic. If an organization is using software that hasn't had any updates based on the pandemic, it must ask the vendor if it has recently developed any updates or plans to make updates.
If using a product that has introduced updates, companies should review and compare the versions carefully to identify differences. Don't pay extra for resources that aren't much better than the ones that have been allegedly replaced.
The following is a partial list of vendors that have announced and released updates to their various pandemic response, pandemic recovery, disaster recovery and business continuity products and services:
- Avalution Consulting
- Assurance Software
- ClearView Continuity
- Fusion Risk Management
Organizations using tools from these or other vendors should keep an eye out for future updates. Because the pandemic is ongoing, vendors that haven't yet made changes might have them in the works.
Again, because the pandemic hasn't ended, it's likely not critical to have already updated existing BCDR and pandemic plans. We're still learning how this particular disaster affects organizations, so any post-pandemic recovery plans are likely incomplete. For many parts of the U.S., the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing, and many healthcare experts are concerned about a second wave of cases later in the year. It may be useful to take another look at plans to reopen your business, based on the latest events, but organizations can expect they'll learn more from the overall experience.
In most parts of the U.S., state and local governments are gradually reopening businesses, provided they strictly follow health-related precautions. Perhaps now is a good time to look over pandemic updates to resilience tools on the market. But if you wait another month or two to see what happens, you're unlikely to fall too far behind in your recovery planning.