Road testing your Business Continuity Planning – brought to you by COVID-19
This is the time the rubber hits the road in terms of businesses’ ability to survive (and thrive) in difficult times – employees working from home, remote meetings and events, IT systems stretched and the economy a rodeo ride of uncertainty.
I met with a mid-market business owner about 12 months ago in Melbourne, as we completed the non-financial/operational analysis of his business and got to Business Continuity Planning, he simply said: “we have one – we prepared it for the bank years ago – it’s bullshit but we have it!”
I wonder how he is going this week with the incidence of COVID-19?
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is designed to manage exactly what we are going through right now. Here are some of the questions the plan will address:
- How does the business continue if we can’t use the office, access our files or hold face to face meetings?
- What is the best way to manage staff remotely?
- Will our IT system cope with 80 people “logging in from home”?
- Will customers still get looked after, services provided, invoices raised and ultimately money still flow through our bank account?
A good BCP should cover all of these issues and more. It should provide detailed instructions as to how the business should be managed in multiple circumstances not just COVID-19, but the recent bushfires, floods and other natural disasters we regularly encounter in Australia.
If you haven’t already got this in hand, then follow this 6-step guide to “catch up“ and get on top:
Step one: List all of the potential areas which need attention and their solutions.
Some of the areas would include:
- Phone answering
- IT systems (including data security as employee use “home” internet connections)
- Deliveries (both outbound and inbound)
- Field visits or service calls
- Compliance – lodgements, payments and banking
- Employee/HR issues and solutions
Step 2: Rate them in terms of two key factors
- Likelihood (how likely is this issue to arise/occur) and
- Impact (if it does occur how seriously will it impact the business)
Then, give each a score out of ten
Step 3: Rank them in order of importance – likelihood and impact (high to low)
Step 4: Start at the top of your list
Those most likely to occur and with the highest impact – these are the things that could cause maximum damage and should be addressed first.
Step 5: For each, you need a short simple step by step guide on how to handle/manage this risk/issue
Step 6: Communicate (more than you think you need to) to all stakeholders regularly – outline the plan and update if things change.
Then once this is all over and things settle back down (don’t worry too much, they will eventually), I suggest you allocate some time to do this properly so if and when the next unplanned event comes along – you, your business and your team are better prepared.