outbreak. With many companies suffering devastating financial damages. And impacting the economy of their respective countries in the process. Not to mention the extraordinary effects on the employees and consumers. Which are in constant disarray at a level rarely seen in human history. What’s the culprit? Obviously COVID-19. But studies saw something unexpected. And revealed that, these huge mega-firms and conglomerates lack the initiative to look at alternative measures to combat the crisis brought about by the pandemic. And that their stubbornness to do so has resulted in a worldwide supply chain disruption that’s on par with the one that happened 80 years ago.
It may seem too late to move away from the status quo of doing things – which is proven to be flawed. But there are still very actionable steps that corporations and industries – big or small – can take that’ll help them with the continuity of their business. As well as prepare for worst-case scenarios that are probable to come.
What Is A Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan consists of steps the company has to take in case of a crisis breaking off. It is one of the most critical components of business strategy. It can address even the fundamental concerns – like what to do in case a current leader gets infected with the viruses and possibly, perish too.
Generally, the steps that will allow a business to continue running in the middle of natural disasters, process failures, or (in today’s case) a viral outbreak.
So, how do you create an effective business continuity plan?
The first thing that you should do is to conduct risk assessments. This will help you identify which functions of the business the crisis will significantly impact. Create a hierarchy for each risk you found based on the probability they’ll occur.
Make sure that you address high probability risks first since they are the most likely to occur. Whether it will highly impact the business or not, establish plans to void, prevent, minimize or contain the effect in the company.
Risks that have a low probability of occurring need no action yet. But make sure you establish a backup plan in case those functions go down too.
Once you have conducted the risk assessments, identify which employees can deliver your backup plans. Then, determine how long it will take for them to put the functions back to normal. Determine also what resources they need and make sure to provide them.
Knowing these things is crucial in creating a business plan and will significantly impact the effectiveness of the program you’re conducting.
Review Policies and Agreements
Once you have assessed the risks, time to review your internal employee policies in regards to a crisis.
These policies will include:
- Remote work
- Paid or Unpaid Leaves
- Separating employees (in case of an infectious disease outbreak)
Develop each policy in a way that will benefit both you and the employees.
Another thing that you should review is the agreement you have with your suppliers or clients. If possible, evaluate their business continuity plan, too, so you can see if you meet halfway with the expectations.
Once done with the assessments and reviews, it’s time that you develop your plan. You can create a team for this one so you can get suggestions as to what best processes or systems you can implement.
Discuss the following:
- The scope of the plan
- Key business areas
- Critical functions
- How dependent is each business function with each other
- Determine the acceptable downtime for each function
This way, you get to see the bigger picture.
A business continuity plan will only be useful if you implement it well. Bad implementation can give bad results as well, so you should explain the guidelines and protocols in a way your employees will understand.
Make sure that you create protocols related to the crisis happening like for an outbreak. Follow proper quarantine guidelines for those who came from travel. Or, if there are natural disasters, provide appropriate instructions for safe evacuation.
Ensure your Employees’ Health and Safety
Amid a crisis, you must protect your employee’s health and safety. That’s why you need to make sure that you incorporate policies that discuss your employees’ well-being. Here are some ways to do it:
- Review the federal, state, and local recommendations
- Prepare for a reduced workforce
- Assess possible risks
- Downsized services
- In the case of an outbreak, provide health sanitation (toilet, sanitizer, cleaning supplies, PPE) for your employees
- Develop communication
- Address employees’ needs
- Provide training
Remember, your employees’ safety is essential for the continuity of your business. Assure them that you’ll be there to assist them with their needs, communicate procedures clearly, and ensure them that you’re prepared.
Define the capabilities of upstream and downstream supply chains
It’s best to expect disruption in the supply chains.
- Define the capabilities of upstream supply chains to determine if a supplier is still capable of providing your needs during a crisis. If not, increase your inventory so you can extend operations as well.
- Determine the capabilities of the downstream supply chains and assess how it will impact your customers if operations don’t get back to normal.
By determining the capabilities of these chains, you set expectations to yourself and get you prepared on the worst-case scenarios.
Train your Employees and Incident Response Team
Train your employees about the proper practices they should be doing during the crisis. Sometimes, communications may not be enough. So you should give hands-on procedures as well.
But most of all, train your incident response team. These are the people who will implement back up plans. They are vital to the business’ continuing function, If you want them to perform their best, you should give training.
Training will ensure your team is prepared and that they know the responsibilities they have during the crisis.
Test and Improve
Testing is essential when creating a plan. Again, you can discuss this with a team through a tabletop exercise. Lay out an idea and create a possible scenario. This way, you’ll be able to see if there are gaps you need to fill or improvements to create the best contingency plan.
In these trying times, we, at Provant, are concerned about your businesses. We can provide you solutions and minimize any risks your company has to take. If you’re interested in creating a plan for your company, contact us and let’s work together to save your company’s future.