Business interruption was placed firmly in the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic and many organisations experienced steep learning curves in working in ‘contingency mode’.
Even though the risk of a global pandemic may not have been front of mind for business leaders when preparing a business continuity plan, organisations who had a defined plan in place had a basis from which to define their response. However, around a quarter of businesses surveyed in February 2020 were only just developing their first ever business continuity plan in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.i
At that time, data also showed that 95% of businesses said that they planned to assess whether it was necessary to revisit their enterprise risk management framework and continuity in light of the pandemic.ii
When could the next pandemic happen?
The terms ‘once in a lifetime’ or ‘once in a century’ have been frequently used to refer to COVID-19. But, is this description accurate?
In July 2022, the Center for Global Development (CGD), hosted an event on predicting the frequency and scale of future pandemics, with speakers from Metabiota, a company specialising in infectious disease research and preparedness. Metabiota’s research suggests that another pandemic may come sooner than we think.
They estimate that the probability of future zoonotic diseases (diseases transmitted from animals to humans) resulting in a pandemic of COVID-19 magnitude or larger is between 2.5%-3.3% annually. This equates to a 22%-28% chance that such an outbreak will occur within the next 10 years, and a 47%-57% chance that it will occur within the next 25 years.iii
Why is business continuity management (BCM) so important?
It is not surprising that businesses of all sizes and across all sectors have been in survival mode for the last few years—tackling the challenges of Brexit, the pandemic, the knock-on effect of the war in Ukraine, and, for some, the impact of extreme weather events. However, this is also the time to be thinking about long-term resilience, and how your business can grow and thrive despite potential periods of disruption in the future.
An effective business continuity plan should provide a framework for incident management and decision-making, critical IT staff and networks that are ready to respond, and altered/alternative work spaces that can be quickly leveraged in the event of a crisis. It should also help you to re-evaluate your business interruption insurance against a backdrop of inflationary pressures, supply chain challenges and other risks.
Having a business continuity plan in place can reduce the amount of thinking time needed following an incident and can help contain and minimise the extent of the potential damage.
How Gallagher can help
There has possibly never been a more appropriate time for businesses to invest in pre-event preparation. Our Risk Management Solutions team understands the external risks and global trends that are affecting the costs and impacts of major losses, and our experienced and qualified BCM specialists can assist you with your business continuity planning — whatever the size of your organisation. This can range from helping you test your existing business continuity plan to working with you to build or refine it for increased resilience in today’s risk climate.
For small businesses, we also offer support with business continuity management within our online risk management portal.
If you would like to speak to our specialist team, please get in touch with us below.