Time to Go Beyond the Business Continuity Plan to the Pandemic Plan


With the swine influenza working its way across the world, it's a good time to discuss your pandemic plan. You do have a pandemic plan, right? If you do have a plan, then pat yourself on the back. If you don't have one, you could be putting your organization at great risk. However, don't worry, it's never too late to create one.


I highly recommend using the guidelines as defined by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) . Let's start by first understanding the differences between a traditional business continuity plan (BCP) and a pandemic plan. A BCP usually prepares for disasters that have a limited scope, duration and geographic location. A pandemic outbreak by nature is unpredictable, so the plan must be flexible. We know that pandemics are not limited by geographic location. Most pandemics come in waves that can last up to four months. According to the FFIEC, absenteeism is the single most serious threat to businesses.


The FFIEC guidelines recommend the following as a starting point:


  • Develop preventative measures. These should include supplies to protect employees, pandemic monitoring, and employee education.
  • Have a documented strategy that deals with a pandemic outbreak in stages (i.e., first detection, regional outbreak, local outbreak, etc.).
  • Have a documented strategy that includes the facilities, procedures, people and systems that are needed to keep your business up and running.
  • Don't just have a plan, test it.
  • Provide plan oversight to keep it up to date.


Pandemicflu.gov, the Department of Homeland Security and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provide excellent guidance on pandemic planning.


I have helped many organizations create, update and test their pandemic plans. As I said, it's never too late to create a plan. Even though I think that we are going to dodge a bullet with the swine influenza, there will be another one. It's just a matter of time. Do you have a pandemic plan?