Now is a crucial time for organizations to review and update their business continuity plan.
1.Establish clear succession planning and assignment of authority
It’s crucial for organisations to ensure that roles and responsibilities are clearly assigned, particularly during extended absences. This not only ensures tasks are completed in a timely manner, but also helps to maintain the continuity of essential activities. The assignment of authority is equally important to ensure that sign-off for critical tasks can continue uninterrupted. In the absence of a key leader who possesses sole signing authority for important tasks, the entire operation may come to a halt. Therefore, it’s essential to have a well-defined plan in place to manage roles and responsibilities in such scenarios, to prevent any disruptions to business operations.
2. It’s important to be ready for potential reductions in the availability of resources
Organisations should develop comprehensive plans to accommodate significant changes in resource availability. It’s important to consider different scenarios and assess how the organization would respond in each case. For instance, what would be the reaction if more than half of the departmental staff were unavailable due to sickness? Similarly, what would happen if a city were to shut down due to a natural disaster, rendering staff unavailable? It’s important to have a clear strategy in place to manage such situations, including contingency plans for alternative resources, remote working options, and cross-training programs to ensure staff can perform multiple roles when necessary. By planning ahead for potential resource constraints, organizations can maintain continuity of operations and ensure that they are well-prepared to face any unexpected challenges.
3. Organisations should develop plans to anticipate and manage large swings in demand
It’s important for organisations to have a plan in place to respond to significant increases in demand. In such situations, it’s critical to be able to rapidly scale up operations, resources, and staff to meet the increased demand. This may require a range of measures, such as implementing emergency protocols, streamlining processes, and cross-training staff to perform multiple roles. By anticipating potential spikes in demand and having a well-defined response plan in place, organisations can minimize disruption to their operations, maintain service quality, and ensure they are well-positioned to handle any unexpected challenges.
4. Organisations need to establish clear rules for triaging requests.
It’s important for organisations to have clear rules in place for triaging work in the event that service levels cannot be maintained due to unforeseen circumstances. These rules should specify how lower priority activities will be managed, and how high-priority activities will be prioritized when capacity is limited. For example, Telehealth Ontario has established clear triage rules for individuals with non-critical COVID-19 symptoms who are at low risk and haven’t been in contact with anyone who has travelled. These rules include self-isolation, staying at home, and avoiding visits to healthcare facilities. By having well-defined rules for triaging work, organizations can ensure that resources are allocated effectively, that high-priority tasks are addressed promptly, and that service levels are maintained as much as possible, even in challenging circumstances.
5. Ensuring Redundancy for Critical Systems: Backing Up and Duplicating Critical Systems
organisations review all their systems to identify which ones are critical and ensure they are backed up and duplicated in case of a failure or outage. This involves developing a comprehensive backup plan that specifies how each critical system will be duplicated, how data will be backed up, and how each system will be accessed in the event of a failure. By investing in redundancy and backup systems for critical systems, organisations can minimize downtime, reduce the risk of data loss, and ensure business continuity in the face of unexpected events or system failures.
6. Expand customer self-service options
Provide customers, partners, and staff with self-serve options through digital channels to reduce or eliminate the need for face-to-face interaction. With the current crisis, it’s fortunate that banks developed online banking years ago, enabling customers to bank remotely. The digital transformation and automation solutions offer significant opportunities for organisations to expand self-serve options. By digitizing and automating processes, organisations can reduce reliance on in-person interactions, enhance customer experience, and increase efficiency. Self-serve options can include online portals, mobile applications, and chatbots that allow customers to perform tasks such as account management, customer service inquiries, and order placement on their own. By embracing digital self-service options, organizations can stay competitive, reduce costs, and provide their customers with convenient, secure, and personalized experiences.
7. Enabling Remote Coaching and Mentoring for Employees
Proactively address the challenge of providing stable and continuous leadership in the current work-from-home environment. With remote work becoming the norm, it’s crucial to consider how coaching and mentorship will be delivered to staff without the benefit of face-to-face interaction. The absence of managers due to extended leave or illness can further exacerbate the situation.
Developing and implementing remote coaching and mentoring options will be key to supporting the ongoing development of employees. This could involve leveraging technology such as video conferencing, online training modules, or virtual mentoring platforms to deliver coaching and mentorship sessions. By establishing clear objectives, performance metrics, and feedback mechanisms, organisations can ensure that remote coaching and mentoring options are effective in providing personalized and actionable feedback to employees.
Leadership development programs can also be adapted for remote delivery to ensure that employees receive the necessary guidance, support, and mentorship to advance their skills and career. This can include virtual leadership workshops, online coaching sessions, or mentorship programs that leverage technology to facilitate remote interactions.
By embracing remote coaching and mentoring options, organisations can foster a culture of continuous learning, improve employee engagement and retention, and maintain a stable and continuous leadership presence in the face of remote work challenges.
8. The Importance of Clear and Frequent Communication in Times of Crisis
In times of crisis, clear and frequent communication is essential for organisations to maintain stability and alleviate anxieties among their employees and customers. As an expert, I recommend that organisations prioritize communication with staff, informing them of any changes and how their roles may be affected. It’s important to maintain up-to-date contact information and use multiple channels to ensure all staff receive the message.
Similarly, organisations must also communicate frequently with their customers to inform them of any impacts to services or offerings. Effective communication channels for customers include email, IVR and social media. By communicating with transparency and clarity, organizations can alleviate anxieties and maintain trust with both their employees and customers.
9. Establishing Effective Backup Procedures for Essential Tasks
it is crucial to establish backup practices for all essential tasks within an organization. To achieve this, it is important to establish backup procedures for every essential task and document them thoroughly. It is equally important to train staff on these procedures to ensure seamless implementation in the event of an unforeseen circumstance.
In addition, customer transactions must be processed without delay, even if there are systems failures. To achieve this, organisations must develop systems failover for their networks and servers. Frequent testing of these backup procedures is also vital, and outcomes must be measured to ensure they meet expected standards.
10. Importance of Maintaining Reserve Funds for Business Continuity
it is crucial to emphasize the importance of maintaining reserve funds for emergencies. During a business disruption, unexpected expenses can arise, such as increased staffing costs due to an increase in customer demand or relocation expenses due to a natural disaster. Having a reserve fund in place can help businesses cover these unplanned expenses and ensure their operations continue uninterrupted. It is essential for companies to regularly review and adjust their reserve funds to meet the changing needs of their business.