4 Strategies for Developing Your Bank’s Pandemic Preparedness Plan

Ebola Scare Should Prompt Review of Your Bank’s Pandemic Preparedness Strategy

Health scares like the Ebola virus saturate the news media with concerns about public safety, government response and medical community preparedness. It brings attention to the need for banks to review the strategy in place should operations be compromised by an unforeseen pandemic.

Pandemic planning presents unique challenges to financial institutions. Unlike most natural or technical disasters and malicious acts, the impact of a pandemic is much more difficult to determine because of the anticipated difference in scale and duration. As a result of these differences, no individual or organization is safe from the potential adverse effects of a pandemic event. Experts believe the most significant challenge may be the severe staffing shortages that will likely result from a pandemic outbreak.

Pandemic preparedness should be evaluated, monitored, tested and reported together with the bank’s general disaster recovery/ business continuity preparedness cycle; including business impact analysis and risk assessment processes.Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach to the pandemic preparedness.

First of all, the pandemic planning is actually opposite to other types of disaster recovery planning because you need to separate people rather than gather them. Also, unlike in a standard recovery, there will not be an issue of technology infrastructure failures, but rather of acute shortage and exposure of trained personnel.

In addition, pandemic planning stresses video conferencing, working from home, reduction of overcrowding and physical proximity. Also, some studies stress the importance of aligning the planning with the company’s profile (i.e. centralized as opposed to business units having certain levels of autonomy etc.).

Below are 4 strategies for developing a pandemic preparedness plan:
Develop a Communication Plan – Determine the delivery method of important news and instructions. This may take form of newsletters, internal web sites, company meetings, etc. There should also be a forum for questions and a method for providing FAQs to all.
Determine the Methodology for a Pandemic Plan – Create a framework of facilities, systems, and procedures that need to continue for critical operations should a large numbers of staff members be unavailable for prolonged periods.
Analyze the Impact of a Pandemic – The analysis of the potential impact of a pandemic should be continual and coordinated with the reporting health organizations. Once a timeline of impact duration is assessed, the maximum impact of the potential disruption can be better assessed.
Put Together a Pandemic Response Team – Because of the unpredictability of a pandemic development and highly contagious nature of the virus, there should be a pandemic team in place who are all familiar with the plan objectives. Team members would be responsible for coordinating all recovery activities to keep banking services and processing to acceptable levels during prolonged times of pandemic-related personnel shortages.
The Business Continuity team at The Broadleaf Group Banking Division has created a 37-point Pandemic Preparation Checklist to help guide clients through the process of planning. A consultant can provide valuable insight with a no-cost assessment of your overall business continuity program. Call 1-866-837-4103 or fill out the form in the right sidebar to get started.

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