The Power of Plan B

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The Power of Plan B: Developing a Good Contingency Plan

By Megan Matijevich, Manager Marketing Communications
American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the COVID-19 curveball that hit businesses worldwide was that everyone needs a plan B…or even a plan C or D. Fires, floods, and tornados are some of the events that often come to mind when discussing contingency plans, certainly not year-long global pandemics. And, while these extreme challenges are well worth preparing for, it’s important to remember that it can sometimes be the little things that throw the biggest kink in our daily business operations. For instance, what if the person who does your payroll (possibly you) gets sick and can’t process checks before payday? What if the employee responsible for handling your accreditation suddenly quits and a surveyor shows up to survey your facility? That’s why it’s important to prepare for as many scenarios as possible, big or small, to ensure that you aren’t left scrambling.

Start by assessing the risks

What business functions are critical? What will allow you at a minimum to serve customers and keep the lights on? You may find that you come up with a huge list too overwhelming to handle. It’s important to prioritize that list and identify the risks that are most likely and focus on those first. For example, if your business is located in a warmer coastal area, you may put more emphasis on planning for hurricanes and flooding rather than a major snowstorm. COVID-19 was likely not on anyone’s likely-to-happen list, but those of us that had a thorough contingency plan probably still benefited from many elements of that plan despite the magnitude and length of the COVID-19 event. Regardless of whether you had a plan or not, it is important to learn from these challenges and add any new protocols you developed along the way.

The challenges

The smaller the business, the harder it can be to find time to develop a plan B especially if it took all you had just to come up with plan A! Try to see the bigger picture. If a crisis does occur, it could mean the difference between a quick solution and a domino effect of disaster if you aren’t prepared. It’s the same reason we all buy insurance for our cars, homes, and lives – the what-ifs! And it’s those what-ifs that can drastically affect the livelihood of our businesses.

Developing the plan

For each risk, determine what it will take for you to continue business operations. Consider these questions:

  • If your business location is no longer accessible or safe, where else could you conduct business – another location or virtually?
  • Do you have a back-up for accessing records and products?
  • Do your patients and customers know how to contact you if you have to close your doors?

All of these are important things to consider. It’s especially important to contact your accrediting organization to let them know if you will be conducting business at a temporary location. This will help you avoid any issues with your accreditation or ability to bill Medicare.

Your staff will play a major role in how well your plan B works, so be sure to include them in the development of your plan and assign clear responsibilities in the event of an emergency. What resources will your staff need? What must be done in the first hour, day, or week? It is important to set expectations. This will help you stay on track, avoid missing details and help you gauge how well your plan is working.

Keeping the plan going

Be sure to review your plan at least annually and put it to the test by conducting drills, providing training to staff, and holding regular meetings to discuss your plan and how it could be improved. Change up the scenarios to keep staff engaged and don’t be afraid to role-play! Have staff sign in for any drills or meetings and remember, there’s power in having a good plan B.

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