This is not another COVID-19 article. This is an article about why the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for most businesses failed during a pandemic. Did your BCP include how to respond to a global economic shutdown due to a pandemic? Then your organization also had a flawed BCP.


Your Business Continuity Plan Didn’t Have a Contingency for Black Swan Events

A few years ago, a statistician named Nassim Taleb popularized the term “Black Swan” in his book of the same name. A Black Swan event is a highly improbable outcome. We all know swans to be white, therefore, we predict that all swans are white. That is, until we encounter an exceedingly rare event – a black swan.

This image demonstrates that we are surprised by circumstances we have never experienced.

Planning for improbable scenarios in your BCP is valuable but unlikely to capture a Black Swan event.

We don’t need better predictive powers. We need the ability to adapt to rare situations.

This is resilience.


Business Continuity Without Resilience Leaves a Gap in Continuity

Most BCPs focus on redundancy. They address known risks such as volcanoes, earthquakes, weather events, and infrastructure disruption that impair connectivity.

These BCPs don’t work when virtually the entire world shuts down simultaneously and redundancy is simply not an option.

COVID-19 showed us the limits of redundancy planning.

Resilience (or a lack thereof) is what’s left when redundancy is not the most important consideration.

In other words, the ability to quickly adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic became the essential ingredient of a BCP in March. For Shearwater Health, that meant assessing and responding to sudden –  and at times unpredictable (and contradictory) – government policy changes, establishing new ways of managing uncertainty, and establishing in some cases dramatically different operating protocols to deliver value for our clients. It also included defining entirely new safety protocols for our employees.

Resilience has proven to be the “secret sauce” to our BCP that will continuously be evaluated.


BPO Partners Built for Resilience

As noted by a recent Deloitte CFO survey, BCP will no longer be a simple discussion and acceptance of the Outsourcing Partner’s standard package. McKinsey recommended ensuring you’re with a BPO partner you can proactively collaborate with to prepare for unpredictable events.

Because of the inability to adapt, many BPO companies had centers shut down with tens of thousands of employees furloughed. For those that were able to shift to work from home models, only 55% of BPOs were able to transition up to 60% of their workforce.

Shearwater Health operates three delivery centers in the Philippines (in the cities of Manila and Cebu, respectively). In March, the global COVID-19 pandemic caused the Philippine government to impose a quarantine on its general population in Manila and Cebu.

In a span of 72 hours, we transformed our business to meet 100% of our healthcare clients’ service level agreements.


Curious how we did it?

Download our detailed infographic that shares how we used resilience to continue delivering value to the U.S. healthcare industry.

Resilience Infographic

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