COVID-19 is a fast growing and unique challenge to organizations globally. Understanding what it is and what precautions to take and preparing your organization to be resilient will likely prove crucial in protecting employees and maintaining operations. This includes understanding your organization’s position in terms of business continuity and crisis management, specifically as it relates to your staff, vendors, supply chain, and IT operations and infrastructure.
As the global challenge of COVID-19 potentially increases, organizations should assess the following considerations toprotect themselves and their staff.
How do we keep our organization operating?
Confirm mission-critical outcomes are well understood from end to end and contingency plans are in place to keep them operating. In particular, key dependencies—processes, locations, people, vendors, and IT systems—need to be confirmed and documented (typically achieved through a business impact assessment (BIA)).
Can the strategies included in our continuity plans be relied upon?
Make sure business continuity plans (BCPs) reflect critical outcomes. Organizations should have BCPs and continuity strategies that reflect critical business outcomes and dependencies mapped out in a BIA. If possible, these plans should be pressure-tested (either immediately or in the recent past) to ensure they remain fit for purpose in the face of a potential global pandemic. Additionally, confirm whether business continuity insurance arrangements provide adequate coverage.
How do we manage if this becomes a crisis?
To safeguard the effectiveness of an organization’s strategic response to a significant global incident, it is important that crisis management arrangements be formalized. This includes clear, repeatable, processes for activating an executive leadership team—either locally in an emergency response center or remotely using teleconference platforms— steering the strategic direction of the organization and communicating clearly internally and externally.
Have we planned for a pandemic and are we postured to respond?
Given that COVID-19 has now been declared a pandemic, organizations need to have a clear strategy for managing the virus as it spreads. In particular, while staff continues to work from a central location, the depth and breadth of cleaning services should be confirmed. However, to contain the virus, organizations should have formalized processes and policies for implementing social distancing (i.e., work from home (WFH), split shifts) and managing mission critical outcomes using the minimum number of staff (i.e., “skeleton staff”).
What can we do right now?
Alternative working arrangements
Clarify the WFH processes. Organizations often lean on the “we’ll just work from home” strategy in the event of a challenge of this nature. However, it is important to confirm a number of key questions related to this strategy prior to implementation:
Vendor and supply chain management
For organizations that rely on global manufacturing locations and/or vendor distribution partners for mission-critical outcomes, planning for the eventuality that these locations and vendors become unavailable is critical. This planning should include confirmation of any contingent strategies/providers that could be relied upon and any continuity processes that could support mission-critical outcomes in the short to medium term.
Organizations should monitor and maintain regular communication with staff, providing staff with regular, up-to-date information on the state of COVID-19 and the processes being implemented to protect staff and maintain critical operations.
Organizations should advise staff to communicate with Human Resources if they have personal international travel— particularly to locations that may have confirmed cases.
The excerpt was taken from Maintaining business resilience in the face of COVID-19 March 2020.
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