What the Coronavirus tells us about business continuity plans 

The coronavirus has led to anxious executives around the world. As a result, many are hurriedly dusting off files labelled ‘disaster recovery’, ‘business resilience’ and ‘business continuity’. They are reviewing them to make sure it reflects what we now know about the virus. But, does this task matter when less than 0.1% of people will see these plans?

Employees on a Need to Know Basis

Employees on a need to know basis Bosses will argue that decision makers need access to business continuity plans. However, this outbreak goes well beyond business limits and it is at a time when people demand greater transparency.

If you believe in the saying ‘there’s no such thing as a great business, only great people’, why are these great people not engaged with business continuity plans?

New Content, Old Ways

The discipline of disaster planning has improved in quality. Companies such as the BCI promote best practice and encourage the sharing of knowledge between companies. But, there’s been less focus on how technology can help make business continuity plans:

  • Dynamic;
  • Accessible;
  • Structured.

The content may be better but has its communication improved?

Dynamic Coronavirus Business Continuity Plans 

Dynamic Coronavirus Business Continuity Plans If you go online you can edit and change fles in conjunction with other people, live. Cloud services and applications like Google Docs make team collaboration far easier. Most business continuity departments have not adopted this dynamic document management style.

Some may view this approach as prudent: it is easy to lose credibility if frequent changes are made to fundamental pieces of advice (for example, switching advice from ‘washing hands is good’ to ‘washing hands is bad’ would weaken credibility).

However, people know some information is dynamic. The fear of inconsistency should not assign business continuity plans to museum pieces.

SIRV provides dynamic information control.


One of the biggest reasons employees do not see business continuity plans is because some information contained therein is sensitive. For example, the location for a business’s disaster recovery data centre may be a prize to hostile actors.

However, modern technology can limit employee’s access to information, showing them what they need to know. All people need to know certain information, for example a cleaner and a boss both need to know where the location of a fire evacuation point. But, should the cleaner not also know what will happen if their office is contaminated?


Reading is hard work. Some people enjoy a novel but most find it hard. This means we’ll often prefer to scan documents or ask someone else to read for us.

Most business continuity plans are huge and poorly written, reflecting their true purpose; a record for the writer, not the reader.

Using a structured approach (such as a decision tree) can increase engagement with business continuity plans.

Discover how SIRV uses decision trees to boost engagement

Summary: Coronavirus Business Continuity Plans

The virus will change every life and every business. After its been brought under control we will discover new habits. More working from home is an obvious example. My hope is this experience will also lead businesses to think more about how they engage their employees with their business continuity plans. After all, this outbreak may be the first of many.