The COVID-19 outbreak has shown the importance of having a business continuity plan and succession plan in place that accounts for emergency and disaster events. If companies do not already have one in place, now is the time to do so.
In adopting a business continuity plan, companies should identify essential and non-essential business operations. They should consider whether a centralized system is in place that allows for fluid transfer of information and communication among its management and employees, as well as access to and retention of documents. As more cities and states have implemented a shelter-in-place policy and limitations on non-essential travel as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, business continuity plans should also account for any technological infrastructure that may be required to handle a significant increase in employees working remotely and related cybersecurity risks. Moreover, business continuity plans will need to reflect the impact of the practices of vendors and suppliers on a company's business interruptions during events, such as the COVID-19 outbreak.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us further that the CEO and key officers are not immune, and companies should adopt a succession plan that accounts for unforeseen emergencies. Succession and contingency plans should include identification of successors, interim personnel and/or shared duties and responsibilities among existing personnel in the event that certain personnel become unavailable to ensure continuity in the management and daily operations of the company.
Lastly, as additional challenges from the COVID-19 outbreak emerge, cooperation among management and the board of directors has proven crucial in developing business continuity and succession plans that are reassessed and adjusted as often as necessary.