Business continuity planning for COVID-19

Business continuity planning for COVID-19

Resilient Organisations has prepared this advice to provide a structure for refreshing business continuity plans (BCPs) for COVID-19. If you require further assistance, please get in touch with us.

Communication

Good communication is essential in all phases of an event, from risk reduction to recovery. We have put communications first as it is frequently overlooked as staff become focused on other aspects of operational delivery. Some communication will be organisation-wide, while some may be specific to parts of the organisation.

  • What messages do we need to give to staff?
  • What do we need to tell the public and customers?
  • What do we need to communicate with suppliers and potential response and recovery partners?
  • Do we have the systems in place to enable rapid communication? For example, do we have the necessary contact information for all staff and external partners readily available?

In thinking about communication, some basic components are:

  • What has happened / is expected to happen?
  • What you know or don’t know?
  • What you are doing?
  • What do you want them to do?

Phase 1: Avoid or reduce impact

What do we know and what do we need to know about the virus and reducing risk? The Ministry of Health is a key source for guidance.

How do we reduce the impact on staff?
  • Protective measures – surface cleaning, hand-washing, respiratory hygiene etc.
  • Reducing exposure from travel, mass gatherings, etc.
  • Dealing with staff illness - what are our ‘stay-away’ rules.
  • Do we have staff who are more vulnerable? Are there extra measures we can take to keep those staff safe?
  • What messages do we give to customers and how can we adjust our services to reduce the risk of spreading the virus among customers and staff?

Phase 2: Business Continuity Planning

Critical processes

  • What are our critical processes and how may these be affected?
  • Who is needed to maintain these services? Who else could fill those roles if staff are absent?
  • What other resources (physical, financial, or expertise) are needed and how may these be affected?
  • What critical services may be affected due to suppliers, contractors or staff unavailability or the inability to supply critical components/spares etc. Are we adequately prepared for supply chain disruption?
  • How might it affect the demand for our services? Are there areas where demand may increase (such as Contact Centre?) or decrease? What are the financial implications of this?
  • What else will impact on our ability to maintain services?

BC arrangements

  • What are our planned business workarounds for the processes and impacts identified above? What is in our existing BCPs? What is missing and/or could be improved to respond better?
  • Have we got the necessary components in place to put our BCPs into practice? For example, do all staff have the necessary access, equipment, and skills to work from home if needed? Do we have suitable personal protection equipment (PPE) available for staff? Do we have or can we get stocks of critical spares? Have backup staff been trained and/or is there sufficient guidance on what to do? Do we have or can we obtain the financial resources we need to keep operating?
  • How can we help staff work from home if schools are shut?
  • At what point do we close or reduce some services?
  • How could we adapt? Can staff be re-deployed from non-essential or less urgent services to high priority tasks? What training may they need to do this? Is this training necessary in advance?
  • What other partners, internal or external, could help us (considering how they may also be affected)? Or how can we help them?
  • What services will we rely on from other partners or contractors? What are their response plans? This may apply to a wide range of contractors or partners, internally and externally.

Recovery

  • What is needed to aid the recovery or restoration of services?
  • What is needed to support staff, especially if they have experienced the loss of someone close?
  • What issues may come up for staff if they are returning to work?
  • To what extent does the organisation need to adjust its services to support its staff and community to recover?

Final thought

Things rarely return to business as usual after a crisis. When thinking about response and recovery, keep in mind changing customer demand. Adaptability is a key part of resilience.