When considering the risks of a crisis such as Ebola, companies need to first and foremost protect their people, and thereafter to look at the broader business impact it may have.
Minimising the risk to employees is a clear priority for any company, be it planning a response to a health crisis or a natural disaster. But from a business continuity point of view, companies also need to look at the bigger business impact once staff have been protected.
What should not be forgotten, however, is the impact on the company’s supply chain. Today’s supply chains are long and complex: companies are sourcing products and services from far afield, and they are looking for new markets. All of this means that their vulnerability to pandemic-related risks is greater.
In this instance, although a company and its people might not be likely to be directly affected by the outbreak, it could be that a supplier or a supplier to a supplier has a manufacturing plant in Liberia, or is reliant on raw materials from Sierra Leone. Companies need to understand the knock-on effects if a member of the supply chain is unable to meet its commitments.
The overall message from the Ebola outbreak is clear: Do not let unexpected disasters take you by surprise. Make sure you have a comprehensive plans in place so you are prepared!
Monitor the Ebola pandemic (and any others) and get useful information from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.