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This pandemic is a critical event and needs to be treated as such

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This pandemic is a critical event. For most companies this is unchartered territory and management of it will be very disjointed and take valuable time to work through.

A crisis management program is necessary but not always within an organisation’s experience, so companies need to consider how they can use technology to help them manage the impact on the business and a remote working strategy. This will help them to be prepared, provide them with the ability to monitor risk intelligence, and give them the means of communicating with employees, wherever they are.

Here’s is a quick guide, based on our own wide experience dealing with emergencies, to how a combination of best practice and crisis management technology can help:

Coordination – Set up a team that is dedicated to exercising control during the coronavirus, so that it can ensure the necessary decisions can be made quickly and in a goal-oriented manner. 

Assess - Assess the threat to you and your employees from coronavirus. Determine where it is occurring and whether the source of risk information is reliable.  There will be a lot of data to sort through, including social media.  It is important to ask: how many different sources of risk data are we using to monitor threats to our company? How effective is that?  Is any of it automated or filtered? 

Locate – Based on the assessment, you need to locate the impacted people or assets or operational functions. This could involve your employees, remote workers, executives, contractors and other stakeholders.  Trying to correlate the two may involve accessing multiple systems and sources of information like HR systems, travel systems, building management systems, and so on. You must ask: how many different systems do you have that store information about your people and assets?  Is this information integrated with your threat data to determine who or what might be impacted?

Action - Activating response plans and communications.  This will involve not just employees, but all those that are connected with the organisation who need to be kept updated. It is important to have your response plans and communications automated based on specific coronavirus incidents or scenarios as they unfold.

Support – Consider support for employees who fall ill. To ensure that the well-being of those affected by illness is guaranteed as far as possible, companies can find out what help they can provide in terms of access to medical treatment. 

Analyse - Once you’ve activated your plans you need to analyse your situation to make sure the actions you took were effective and to gain a clear understanding of how you performed.  This may involve post event reporting or additional actions required to understand how to improve next time.  Often the systems that are used for this are manual or not even in place. Not knowing how long the coronavirus will impact businesses may necessitate analysis at various points to track the success of the response efforts. 

These tips are designed to guide companies through the unprecedented scenario presented by coronavirus, but they are equally appropriate to other emergency events. Right now, the clock is ticking and the more time that passes, the greater the impact of the virus on employees and operations and fewer options that might be available to businesses. The main benefit of IT platforms that are designed for critical events is that they allow companies to implement emergency measures rapidly, and largely automatically. They also help to collect critical information in real-time so that companies can get a realistic view on how the emergency is likely to affect them, allowing the coordination team to take action accordingly. We are undoubtedly in uncharted territory, but technology can help to steer companies through.

Javier Colado is Head of International at Everbridge