Most companies feel they are prepared for any pandemic, but as we have found with the latest COVID-19 pandemic, many of our customers seem to feel panic and are scrambling to get a proper make-shift pandemic plan together in order to ensure proper business continuity.

Infinite IT has offered comprehensive Pandemic-proof solutions for over 10 years.  From simple work-at-home to full Incident Response Planning, it is strongly recommended you work with a professional firm to get a plan in place.  You need to speak to your IT provider to see how you can plan against a pandemic (or worse) scenario.

If anything COVID-19 has taught the world it is that humans are still the most precious asset to any company.  When that asset is unavailable, business suffers.  The good news is however, companies can avoid the majority of productivity loss for their IT users if they plan and educate ahead of time.  Here’s how to do it.

Engage with a professional

Creating a comprehensive plan is a daunting task if you take it on yourself.  Sure there are a ton of free templates available online, but if you don’t know what others are doing, and what best practices are, chances are you’ll have big holes in your plans.  There are also several different types of plans to consider.  Pandemic Plan.  Business Continuity Plan.  Business Interruption Plan.  Disaster Recovery Plan.  And the list goes on.

We like to start at the top with an overall Incident Response Plan (IRP).  The advantage of an IRP is that it encompasses several different plans and goes across an organization’s departments.  It is not isolated to just the IT department. 

Plan to succeed, not fail

Most companies don’t realize that if they don’t plan, the only thing they are setting themselves up for is failure.  No one wants to fail, but as the saying goes, “Failing to plan is a plan to fail”.  It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, every company needs a plan.  Admittedly, the larger the company, the more intricate the plan needs to be.  The good news is however, most companies are less than 100 employees in Canada, which means most plans can be extremely simple and straight forward.  Making things more complex than they need to be only makes it more difficult to execute when the time comes.  (Note I said WHEN the time comes, not IF… these days, it’s an inevitable reality that these plans are being used all the time).

Resources and Time

You are likely like most of our clients that say “I don’t have time for this! I’m swamped as is!  You can’t expect me to dedicate my time to a task that may never yield results.”

Ironic times we live in.  100% of the plans we have built for customers over the years have been executed to one degree or another.  As the saying goes “You don’t know what you don’t know… and you don’t know what you are missing”.

Most of the plans we have built have required little time from our clients.  Typically, it requires 1 hour a week for 2-3 months to validate the information being compiled.  Of course there is some contribution you need to provide as there is no way we know everything about your business the way you do.  The good news is that a seasoned professional will be able to take on 90% of the work by asking the key questions up front, and a weekly review to validate the interpretation and documentation is more than enough.  So yes, you do have the time for this.

We don’t have budget for this!

The one thing most companies say is that they don’t have budget to build a plan.  Resources are already thin to begin with and taking on a massive project like this is something most are avoiding to do.  We have seen the most success when managers speak with the finance department directly and request discretionary funding for a plan.  The good news is that it does NOT have to be expensive.  In fact, most of the plans that Infinite IT writes costs as little as $25 per employee in the first year, then ten cents on the dollar to maintain.   We have done plans that cost as little as $5,000 for small companies, which means that planning is within reach no matter how big or small your company is.

Talk to your finance department about getting funds for a plan – you would be surprised at how many companies may already have discretionary funds for mission critical services like an IRP without your knowledge.

Failing that, your IT provider may be able to work something out with you to pay a monthly fee to create the plan instead of charging for everything up front, which makes the service something that any company can really afford.

There are quite a few “consultants” and “large firms” that offer similar services, but from our experience, it typically costs 5-10x more going through “the big guys”.  They make money by providing repetitive services that are highly templated.  Your IT provider doesn’t think that way, and likely will provide you with a customized service at a fraction of the price.  MSP’s are all about “actual time is money” and we typically do not consider what the market charges for services.  We look at our costs and determine what is a fair charge for a service that makes it accessible for our customers.

Where to start?

The first step is to ask your IT provider the following questions:

  1. Do you provide Incident Response Planning services?
  2. Can you help me build a sound Pandemic plan?
  3. How many customers have you helped build an IRP?
  4. How long have you been providing IRP services?
  5. Have any of your customers ever executed your IRP? What was their experience?

And always ask for references… and call those references.

Building this plan is just another form of insurance in a way, but one that is tangible and that you get to keep for life.  The best part is that an IRP is very low maintenance!  We typically recommend reviewing it once a year to adjust the plan to anything that has changed in your business.  From our experience, 90% of the changes are related to contacts in the plan (key employees, key customers, key suppliers, etc.)

The Bottom Line

100% of companies need a plan.  Period.

No matter how big or small you are, you need a plan.

Even if you are a small business working from home: what will you do in the event of a pandemic?  How will you continue taking care of your customers?  How will your business survive?

Talk to your IT provider and see if they can help you along the journey. 

If they have never built a comprehensive Incident Response Plan, reach out to us and we will be happy to work along side your IT provider to create a customized plan just for you.

You aren’t alone on this complicated journey when you work with an experienced professional.