by Jeff MacDoniels

The Challenge

When the H1N1 virus emerged as a global pandemic, leadership at a large nonprofit foundation identified critical gaps in crisis readiness. They had an overall business continuity plan. However, it was out of date and lacked the specificity needed to support staff, operations and the organization’s mission during events like a pandemic or major earthquake.

The foundation needed to act fast, but lacked the capacity and expertise to meet the challenge. They engaged Point B to activate a cross-functional team, identify risks and implement pressure-tested plans to support continuity and resilience through this and future crises.

The right team

While the foundation had some crisis management expertise, they recognized Point B’s ability to lead stakeholders through a high stakes process on a tight timeline. We rapidly convened a cross functional team representing all key areas, from leadership and communications to HR, IT, and facilities. From day one, we worked alongside SMEs and stakeholders to develop an actionable response plan aligned with the organization’s mission and goals.

Rapid analysis

Point B quickly assessed the foundation’s core functions and examined how those processes and systems would weather various scenarios. We applied a risk modeling process to identify high, medium and low risk areas. This helped prioritize plans for resource allocation and determine which actions would ensure business continuity during a major incident.

Actionable plans

 We set up a new crisis management team which gave the foundation the structure to effectively respond to a variety of situations. A global pandemic response plan provided specific strategies for each of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) phases of pandemic alert (1-6). We also helped establish travel disruption strategies and duty of care standards to support global staff and volunteers in times of crisis. And we tested and iterated on these plans in live scenarios with staff and the cross-functional team.

Significant results

According to the foundation, the clear guidance and structure had a direct and positive impact on organizational resources in times of need. Key outcomes include:

  • Rapidly activated a cross-functional incident management team.
  • Developed and tested a detailed global incident management plan.
  • Implemented a pandemic response plan aligned with WHO pandemic phases 1-6.
  • Increased capacity and speed to respond to crises.