For many organizations, it can be difficult to assess the ability to maintain or resume operations following a major disruption that could last for some time.
Several elements must be analyzed beforehand to be well prepared to face any major disruption of operations. While everything happens quickly on a daily basis, it is necessary to take a step back and know your real capabilities in such a situation as well as the maximum interruption times. In addition, it is important to have the necessary plans in place to mitigate the risks and impacts, including a business continuity plan, an IT recovery plan (systems and data) and a dedicated emergency response plan.
Different aspects to consider
The consequences of a disruption of your operations can affect many aspects of your business, for example: financial, legal, operational, reputational, environmental and security aspects.
Some ideas for consideration
a) The technology component: let’s start with a simple example. Following a fire, you completely lose access to your office building where your employees are located and this, for an indefinite period. What do you do? Are you able to maintain or restore technology services to support business operations? It is important to know the needs and the time required to restore technology services and obtain new equipment. Don’t forget to take into account the current shortage of computer and technological equipment which will increase the delays. For example, if you don’t have a second IT room (data center) already in place, many components could take up to 12 months to deliver. Could you wait that long without your most critical technologies?
Then, analyze your ability to move your operations and employees to a temporary alternative site. Do you have a business continuity site? Is this site already ready to accommodate your operations? Are your employees willing to telework? If so, are they set up properly? In the event of a power or Internet outage in an area where many of your employees reside, have you identified a location where they can be temporarily consolidated to maintain operations?
Information security is also a huge issue in a telecommuting environment. Do your internal processes take this into account?
If you’re one of those companies that still uses paper documents, you need to think of a plan B if you ever lose them in an incident. For example, by having electronic copies of these documents.
b) The financial aspect: do you have the financial capacity to deal with a temporary disruption of your activities? It is essential to plan for an emergency margin of maneuverability (emergency leewayto ensure the continuity of your business. Expenses can increase rapidly in a crisis situation, as the first waves of COVID-19 demonstrated. However, if your business is the only one to suffer a major disruption, there won’t be all the exceptional national government programs from this pandemic to support you. You should also review your insurance policies and determine if you are covered in the event of a business interruption incident.
c) The relationship component: an interruption of your activities does not only affect your internal team, but also the relationships with, for example, your employees, customers/clients, suppliers and other partners. To limit the repercussions that this could have with them, it is then up to you to maintain communications with all the stakeholders of your organization. This can be done by establishing key targeted messages that will help maintain trust and reputation. A crisis communications management plan will accomplish this. You will benefit not only in the short term, but also in the long term.
In addition, in a crisis situation, your customers/client should ideally be categorized in order of importance. This allows you to know immediately which ones you should prioritize if, unfortunately, you can’t serve them all.
Establish a crisis management structure
Integrated with the business continuity plan and the crisis management plan, the crisis management structure allows for the coordination of the response to a disruptive event to minimize the damage to your company’s profitability, reputation and ability to operate.
This includes, but is not limited to, alerting and mobilization processes, roles and responsibilities, strategic action plan, and internal and external communications. This will make your organization more resilient and better coordinated in the event of a major incident.
Your critical suppliers
Finally, let’s mention that you could be the victim of a reverse situation, for example if your suppliers are the ones who suffer an interruption of their services. Have you ever thought about this scenario? To find out how you can prepare for this, read our blog post on the subject.
To briefly evaluate your capabilities in the event of an interruption of operations and to make you aware of your level of preparation, we invite you to use the self-assessment form available on our website: https://racetteconseils.com/en/self-assessment/.
Afterwards, if you wish, do not hesitate to contact us so that we can assist you in reviewing or implementing measures to mitigate the impacts. Benoit Racette Services-conseils Inc. can help you be better prepared and accompany you in this analysis. Contact us now: [email protected].