April 7, 2020
The global pandemic has brought many of the organizational structures we depend on to their knees. But as you’ve probably noticed, the most experienced, successful organizations have gotten right back up again, dusted themselves off, and continued moving forward as if it were just another day at the office. It’s business as usual for these veterans.
As a matter of fact, some companies like Amazon, the global retail supplier, are able to adapt to survive and even thrive. Amazon is acting as an extension of medical services during the coronavirus crisis and is being dubbed as the new “Red Cross.” Why are these organizations so successful when so many flounder? What’s their secret?
The secret isn’t really a secret – it’s business continuity. Business continuity is all about being prepared, just like the Boy Scout motto. It’s having a plan to deal with any major disruption, including and up to a global pandemic.
Covering all aspects in detail is beyond the scope of this post. However, we will offer advice on how to analyze your priorities and implement recovery solutions during disruptions. In addition to planning for future disasters, you should also be able to use the information to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
Every business has some absolutely essential core processes. They vary from industry to industry. In the construction industry, for example, they are transportation, inventory counting, production, sales, and customer support. You need to identify what’s needed and then you need a plan to manage disruptions to said need.
People are the foundation of every business. They must be kept safe if you want to stay functional. Further, connectivity is an important aspect to consider. Do you have provisions in place to keep your people safe and healthy? Can your people stay in touch with each other even during an event such as a data center going offline? Can you recruit new people to replace the ones who are temporarily unavailable for work?
Who calls the shots when the chips are down? During a disaster, the usual chain of command often ends up in disarray. This is especially true if key personnel like managers are taken out of commission. If there’s no one to coordinate, you can expect a disorganized mess.
Even during disasters, a business is required to maintain proper documentation. This includes preserving contracts, business documents, and procedure documentation. Any disaster recovery action you take must comply with the law. We also recommend setting aside money to defend opportunistic lawsuits.
Money can be hard to come by when times are tough. Lenders and investors tend to get nervous and sometimes don’t help out until things are more stable. Insurance companies may dig in their heels and refuse to pay. You can also expect money-making projects that are in the pipeline to be delayed for an unspecified period.
Lastly, there’s your work location. If there’s a problem with a workspace – like a virus, a flooding, or a local conflict of some kind – can you move work elsewhere? If you don’t have a backup work area in place, your business is going to have to shut down. If you do have a backup, though, you can shift your people there and continue working.
In times of stress, you need to reduce the load on existing systems. That sometimes means shutting down all non-critical work processes. It also means moving people from non-critical tasks to critical ones.
A team that’s focused on production, for example, could temporarily be shifted to customer care to deal with panicked clients and customers.
When you can’t go to work – like if there are quarantines and travel bans in place – consider bringing work to you. Thanks to the internet and modern technology, your staff can do almost all the office work from home. Not only does this save lives and help workers feel safe, but you may also be able to get a productivity boost out of it.
Of course, not all work can be done from home, especially if you’re in a hands-on industry like mining, manufacturing, or construction. When mobility constraints and travel restrictions are impacting your business, technology and third-party services can offer solutions and can complement your business.
For instance, drones can do many of the tasks humans can. Also, they can be piloted remotely, meaning your people can stay safe. Stockpile Reports can assist you in inventory counting during disasters. You can use our drone pilots or you can fly your own, letting us do the data processing.
Typically, businesses have an excess of inventory on hand. In our experience, some businesses underestimate how much they have lying around. Unused inventory is unused money – much like piles of five-dollar bills lying on the ground at your work sites.
You could convert this inventory into working capital or keep production stable. While inventory counting is usually a difficult and time-consuming task, SR can speed it up greatly with our iPhone app.
Infrastructure disruptions are common during disasters and other unforeseen events, including the supply chain. The current crisis is causing supply shortages for several industries, including construction. We recommend creating a backup supply chain where possible, but that takes time. In the meantime, what’s on the ground right now is what matters. Utilize what you have wisely.
We suggest using core control systems to manage your business in real-time. This is essential when supply chain disruptions happen and supply requirements fluctuate unpredictably. SR can make your logistics and inventory management processes more efficient.
Communication is your best friend during a crisis, no matter what it is. We think it’s a cornerstone of business continuity. If you communicate effectively, it builds up confidence among employees, clients, and suppliers. It instills the belief that everything is still in working order.
You can keep everyone on the same page, working toward the same purpose – the smooth functioning of your business. Also, you keep misunderstandings down to a minimum.
How do you communicate clearly? Some businesses hold regular staff meetings to answer questions, provide guidance, and resolve misunderstandings. Others release regular progress and status reports, explaining how the situation is being handled.
You need infrastructure to communicate effectively, work from home, and manage a distributed team. Your requirements are easily met by Cloud-based scalable SaaS systems. They facilitate secure communication and information sharing.
Are you adapting and moving forward or are you standing still and wondering what will happen? The pandemic will be with us for a while. But as long as you have a plan, your hand firmly on the tiller with good information, keep your key objectives in place, and communicate with your team, customers, and providers, you will weather this storm.
SR can offer reliable information, which is priceless in these uncertain times. When you know, you have control and can keep moving forward. Reach out to learn how we can help your business’ continuity efforts in times of trouble, including COVID-19.
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