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With the Australian government initiating the implementation of the Coronavirus Emergency Response Plan, your business needs to respond to the risks and potential impacts to your people, business and broader stakeholder groups.

 

Drawing on our experiences and responses to the most recent bushfire and flood crises, we have developed a proactive step-by-step approach that may assist with your business readiness:

1. Be clear on management roles and responsibilities and secure external support
Identify the key management and support roles for COVID-19 incident management. We recommend identifying the crisis leader group and key team leaders across the core areas of people, business systems, customer, media and regulators that will lead your response efforts, each supported by an appropriately qualified and experienced team and leadership alternate/back-up. Identify the external support you need from advisors and check your insurance cover.
2. Agree your organisational priorities
Prioritise your people and customers in line with your values. Crises must be managed in line with your organisational values – being true to these is an important part of your response, particularly in your internal and external communications. Beyond prioritising people, your response should resonate with your organisation and its desired values and behaviours.
3. Know your exposure, and how impacts may manifest in your organisation to build your action plan
Build your action plan by identifying the main impacts on your business: supply chain, resourcing, contractual obligations, financing/banking and cash flows and prepare for their disruption. Organisations need to have visibility of the most time critical processes and sources of funding, key resources, interdependencies and their tolerances for disruptions. At an absolute minimum, crisis leaders should agree on a prioritised sequence for resource and funding to support business continuity.
4. Plan to contact your staff quickly and through multiple channels

Prepare to rapidly alert staff of safety-critical issues. Develop protocols to stay in contact with staff, vendors and customers by developing multiple ways to distribute messages and instructions to teams across the organisation.

We strongly recommend the use of multichannel, rapid notification systems capable of SMS, Automated Phone Calls (text to voice) and email. At a minimum, crisis leaders and key managers across the business should be able to rapidly contact their team.

5. Update your plans, strategies and contact lists
Prepare and widely distribute your action plan and be prepared to update it as the situation evolves. Management decision making is a central part of any response, but having a comprehensive plan will expedite responses and provide critical inputs to the process – namely, situational awareness and business intelligence. These inputs can assist with the sequencing, prioritisation and delegation of response actions in a timely manner – as well as the rapid analysis of impacts, including the identification of affected stakeholders.
6. Test your arrangements Test your action plan as soon as possible. Even if your business is yet to be affected, by far the most effective thing you can do is to prepare for an event is to rehearse your response. At a basic level, this should involve the crisis leaders discussing the most plausible scenario; and, applying the resources they would expect to use in the event of a crisis – such as plans. These tests must include the crisis leaders and key managers with identified roles in the response, and ideally their back-ups.

Preparing your business to respond to the current challenges can feel remote and overwhelming. To assist you further, KPMG has developed “Managing Critical Moments”, a resource toolkit to support your organisation’s response to crises.

 

If you have questions about disruption within your business as a result of the coronavirus COVID-19, please contact us.

Further reading