Take the Test: Today Ebola, Tomorrow Who Knows? Can Your Business Survive a Pandemic?

Read this article on assessing whether your business can survive a pandemic written in Dec 2014 by Farhaad Nero who was VP of Enterprise Security at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi at that time


Pandemics are epidemics occurring on a scale that crosses international boundaries, usually affecting a large number of people.

We may have had near misses, Ebola most recently but the threat of a pandemic is always with us.

What is the possible impact to your business and how should you prepare? According to one State Public Health Organization addressing a hypothetical influenza pandemic said:

Unlike other natural disasters or terrorist events, where any disruption to business service provision is likely to be infrastructure related, disruption to business operations in the event of a pandemic is anticipated to be human- and material-oriented. A pandemic has the potential to cause illness in a very large number of people, overwhelm the health care system, and jeopardize services by causing high levels of absenteeism in the workforce. Basic services, such as health care, law enforcement, fire, emergency response, communications, transportation, and utilities could be disrupted during a pandemic.

It is business critical to prepare for such an event. So to better measure your skills and get your plans on the table, solidified, or revised, here’s a short questionnaire to help out. The test does not aim to cover everything but will give you a good idea of where you stand. Feel free to modify it to fit your enterprise’s needs.

There are 25 questions, each with a maximum of 2 points.

Please note that many people would say “yes” to every question below when asked about the application of these guidelines to their internal environment.

When you’re done, just multiply the total score by 2 to obtain the percentage that is your final score.

You may ask what percent is a good one. It’s all about knowing your shortcomings and what’s right for your business.

Assign a number from 0 to 2 for each question.  The following is the meaning for each response:

0 = No or Not Applicable

1 = Somewhat or Partially Proficient

2 = Yes

  1. Do you understand the difference between business continuity and a pandemic?
  2. Does your pandemic plan reflect your enterprise’s size, complexity, and business activities?  (0/1/2)
  3. Is it incorporated in your ongoing business impact analysis and risk assessment processes?  (0/1/2)
  4. Does it have a preventive program that includes: monitoring of potential outbreaks, educating employees, communicating and coordinating with critical service providers and suppliers, in addition to providing appropriate hygiene training and tools to employees?(0/1/2)
  5. Does it have a documented strategy that includes: scaling your enterprise’s pandemic efforts such as first human cases overseas, first human cases in the USA, and first cases in your enterprise? (0/1/2)
  6. Does it include a comprehensive framework of facilities, systems, or procedures that provide the capability to continue critical operations for prolonged periods? (0/1/2)
  7. Does it include a testing program to ensure that your plans are effective? (0/1/2)
  8. Does your testing include coordination with local health officials and health care providers like hospitals? (0/1/2)
  9. Does it include an oversight program to ensure continuous monitoring of your standards, policies, and procedures? (0/1/2)
  10. Have you evaluated your critical service providers for support and continued operation during a pandemic? (0/1/2)
  11. Have you reviewed the legal and regulatory requirements that may be impacted during a pandemic? (0/1/2)
  12. Have you assessed the cross training required for key business functions and processes? (0/1/2)
  13. Have you estimated the maximum downtime associated with your enterprise’s business functions and processes that may occur during a pandemic? (0/1/2)
  14. Have you assessed your remote access and telecommuting capabilities? (0/1/2)
  15. Is your pandemic plan incorporated in your BCP? (0/1/2)
  16. Have you communicated and disseminated the pandemic plan and the current status of pandemic phases to all employees? (0/1/2)
  17. Have you identified triggering events that require management to implement its response plans? (0/1/2)
  18.  Have you identified and trained individuals in your organization who would interact with local public health officials so that your efforts are coordinated with those of the communities you work in? (0/1/2)
  19. Have you determined your critical employees? (0/1/2)
  20. What about data security? Have you incorporated secure connections and encryption for a mobile workforce? (0/1/2)
  21. Do your pandemic plans cover your local, regional, and international offices? (0/1/2)
  22. Have you taken into consideration succession planning due to employees not being available to work? (0/1/2)
  23. Have you built a skills matrix – i.e. an assessment of employees’ skills? (0/1/2)
  24. Have you identified essential business functions, essential jobs and roles to maintain proper business operations? (0/1/2)
  25. Are there documented HR provisions that spell out employee actions when they become ill? (0/1/2)

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