Pandemic episode 2: Businesses strike back

P HOMEWORKER.gif'Companies have to ask themselves as early on as possible what positions and jobs are essential to their operations. For positions, they have to verify that there are others that can assume these functions, and plan while they still can to implement a system for working away from the office, like telecommuting.'[s1]

In most large companies, emergency response and monitoring units have been created. They deal with 2 main types of situations:
1. A major crisis at Phase 6 (a freeze on public transportation, prohibitions against large gatherings, etc.) with only 30% of employees available for ensuring continued business operations
2. A near crisis, not yet at Phase 6, with 30% of the working population active for the first 6 weeks and 60% over the following 6 weeks

Bear in mind:
1. The working population plays a major role in a pandemic crisis situation. It is the driving force, the weak link, but also the countermeasure.
2. The main factors that increase employee absenteeism are distance between home and the workplace, the presence in the home of children under the age of 12, and a partner or spouse who also works.
3. Public transportation is also at the heart of the issue since it is an economic necessity, and can be a catalyst for the spread of disease.
A large number of studies have already been carried out to determine what response measures should be implemented.

What are the main issues? 
  • Assessing the number of people to assign to a business continuation plan
  • Quickly identifying the minimum requirements and services that need to be provided
  • Completing everything in less than 6 to 8 weeks, but...
  • ...without exploding the associated budgets
  • The business continuation plan at the heart of the issue

Business continuation plans deal in particular with the following :
  • The nomination of a 'flu pandemic' manager and an emergency response unit
  • The identification of the projects/activities that must be continued regardless of the circumstances
  • The way to maintain an acceptable level of basic requirements (energy, communication, etc.)
  • The number of employees expected to be present at work during a crisis
  • The protection measures and resources available to staff
  • The organisational procedures for maintaining business activities
  • The business conditions and priorities in downgraded mode
  • Alternative solutions to implement
For international companies the task is even more difficult because they have to manage a situation where the epidemic waves may hit at different times, and with different degrees of impact on the company over time, and in each location.

These task forces must work very quickly. Their first priority is to establish common global governance procedures to: 
1. prioritise the allocation of resources in order to prepare a pandemic plan,
2. establish a communications plan,
3. list employees and critical activities,
4. explore possibilities for remote access to the currently available information systems.

It's also true that many companies compare the swine flu crisis to the Y2K bug -- a "scare-mongering situation that is thought to have fed the pockets of IT consulting companies". This is what i call risk management!

Yet, was the fact that the Y2K "crisis" never happened due to everyone overestimating its seriousness, or was it because companies were well prepared?

How much would an unmanaged pandemic wave cost a company compared to the investment required to prepare for it?
Financial analyses conducted in England underscore that if there is no effective, prepared response to this potential H1N1 pandemic wave, the consequences to the economy could be serious, undermining the chances for a global economic recovery this autumn and triggering a period of deflation. 
To be continued...

more information :

Pandemic episode 1
H1N1 flu pandemic : Orange response
Patrice Boukobza
Aujourd'hui consultant en virtualisation, et cela depuis plus de 12 ans avec une forte expérience des grands comptes, Patrice a commencé l'informatique au siècle dernier, quand internet n'existait pas encore et que les premiers réseaux de PC commençaient à voir le jour. Il a vu l'avènement de ces PC et de Microsoft en entreprise puis chez les particuliers, et a connecté les premiers modems pour surfer sur internet. 
Il garde un souvenir suranné des années "internet" avec le fameux bug de l'an 2000 où il a fait partie des équipes luttant contre cette crise potentielle, comme 10 ans plus tard il fût acteur sur le sujet de la pandémie H1N1.
Habitué des blogs (il en possède 3 personnels), il est un des contributeurs principaux du blog virtualisation d'Orange.