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Most companies have had problems implementing the business continuity plan in the COVID-19 crisis. Where did they go wrong?

The COVID-19 pandemic-caused catastrophe caught everyone off guard, hurting businesses across the board, with some forced to shutter their doors or reconsider their business strategy. Although most organizations have a business continuity plan in place for situations such as financial crises, cyber attacks, or natural disasters, they had difficulty developing and implementing a plan to continue business within normal parameters in the current situation, which was completely atypical and uncertain. Although a worldwide pandemic was on the list of probable dangers, it was not among the most common catastrophes or crises considered by businesses when building such a continuity plan, and the harm inflicted by this event proved to be enormous.

 

Why were there extreme consequences for certain companies?

One of the most prevalent errors that most businesses continue to make is a faulty estimate of the relevance of the resources given for carrying out company tasks. The evaluation entails identifying the workers, procedures, and technology required to carry out these duties, as well as potential alternatives during a disruptive incident. Second, many businesses misjudge the time and expense necessary to execute an alternative remedy in order to offset negative consequences or restart normal company operations. The issue is especially prevalent in firms with sophisticated IT systems or those that rely on the usage of many technologies, which is known as a singular point of failure (single point of failure) and can halt the entire business’s functioning. Finally, and perhaps most crucially, while many businesses have created a business continuity plan, it is not effectively documented, evaluated, tested, or linked with current events and trends.

 

What are the steps to a proper recovery after a crisis?

Immediate action

The first and most crucial urgent measure is to guarantee staff safety and health. Ensure that local authorities’ and the World Health Organization’s instructions on social distance and personal cleanliness are implemented. Ensure that individuals can work and communicate in a safe setting (either at work or at home).

Second, ensure that communication between management and staff is well managed. This entails making communication routes between the parties easily available and secure. Set up a temporary crisis management team to disseminate COVID-19 messages and internal departmental decisions, and designate key individuals in your business lines to be in charge of putting these choices into action. Keep staff up to date on changes to internal rules and processes, as well as contact information in case assistance is required.

Furthermore, if teleworking is an option, ensure that collaborative audio/video conferencing solutions are utilized and secured. Use only channels and communication systems that have been approved by the IT Security department. Last but not least, ensure that changes in company operations are communicated to management, staff, suppliers, and consumers on a regular basis.

 

Next actions

Plan-Conduct business impact assessments to identify important processes, manpower requirements, and IT systems or applications that are dependent on them. Processes should be prioritized and classified based on how important they are in the delivery of services and goods. Determine the people, skills, and applications/technologies required to carry out the activity. Define clearly the parameters of RTO (recovery time goal-the time necessary to restart an activity after a disruptive incident, in order to prevent the undesirable effects of a disruption to business continuity) and RPO. (Recovery point objective-the greatest amount of time that data/transactions may be lost due to a disruptive event without having unacceptable implications.) Identify and reduce single points of failure (SPF) in processes, employees, or technology by giving alternatives that are simple to deploy and cost-effective.

Following that, create or revise business continuity and disaster recovery strategies. Make sure your duties and duties are clearly defined, and that you have a committed staff in place to oversee the whole process. All corporate personnel must have access to team members and their contact information.

 

Adapt and monitor

Business continuity and catastrophe recovery strategies must be adapted to each company’s specific needs, as indicated in the business impact assessment. The analysis must be performed on a regular basis to monitor changes in company activity and to modify business continuity and recovery strategies to them following a possible disaster.

Evaluate and improve

Business continuity and disaster recovery plans must be evaluated and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure their efficiency and effectiveness. You must create a wide range of scenarios for testing in order to guarantee that the plans can be applied as effectively as possible. Based on the test findings, the business continuity team should determine whether adjustments to the plans are required and implement them as soon as possible.

Create a culture of resistance

Although designing adequate business continuity and disaster recovery plans is critical in managing crisis situations, the most effective strategy to handle the reaction to these occurrences is to foster a culture of resilience within your organization. Make certain that you have engaged skilled employees who are appropriately taught in crisis management scenarios in order to fulfill customer promises.

A well-managed crisis may not only preserve a firm but also contribute to corporate development. According to a 2019 PwC poll on global crises, 42 percent of 1,400 respondents who had already undergone a big crisis stated they were “in a better position” post-crisis, with some even claiming an increase in income as a direct result of efficient crisis management.