Gartner Research

Toolkit: Pandemic Preparedness Briefing

Published: 24 February 2020


Pandemics aren’t your usual business disruption. They require an extra set of activities that span across all business operations. Security and risk management leaders should use this Toolkit as a guide and checklist of advice to ensure they have as complete a pandemic preparedness plan as possible.


Even before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global public health emergency on 30 January 2020, companies had already begun taking steps to reduce their exposure, such as quarantining people in the apartments in the hot zone of the emergency, restricting travel to China, closing stores and factories there, and ordering employees in affected regions to work from home.

Hence, pandemics aren’t your usual business disruption. Unfolding over months, these events require an extra set of activities that include consultations with epidemiologists, critical role identification and third-party evaluations. We consider a pandemic to be an operational risk that must be managed at the highest levels of the organization because it cuts across every department and location in which the organization operates (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. A Pandemic Is an Operational Risk

The reason for doing the preparedness work for a possible pandemic impacting business operations is that resources won’t usually be available once a pandemic strikes. The benefits of this planning work include:

  • Minimizing the impact upon staff

  • Minimizing the impact on the organizational supply chain

  • Minimizing the impact upon service delivery

  • Minimizing the impact upon the IT infrastructure

  • Protecting the corporate reputation

  • Reducing the financial impact

  • Enabling the organization to return to a new normality sooner.

The conditions of a pandemic that organizations need to understand to best prepare, respond and recover from such an event can be categorized in three ways. However, they all stem one key condition: employee absenteeism.

Preparations must be far-reaching for the potential impacts of the coronavirus on operations, supply chain and personnel. This research describes pandemic preparedness activities that leaders can undertake as the coronavirus outbreak continues to ensure continuity of operations within the organization.

Directions for Use

Security and risk management leaders should use this Toolkit as a guide and checklist of advice to ensure they have as complete a pandemic preparedness plan as possible.

Recommended by the Authors

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise marked for external use, the items in this Gartner Tool are for internal noncommercial use by the licensed Gartner client. The materials contained in this Tool may not be repackaged or resold. Gartner makes no representations or warranties as to the suitability of this Tool for any particular purpose, and disclaims all liabilities for any damages, whether direct, consequential, incidental or special, arising out of the use of or inability to use this material or the information provided herein.

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