The current situation with Covid-19 is a crisis. Some businesses may be already calling it a disaster. And most businesses are being forced to find ways to cut costs.
When it comes to managing a remote workforce, new challenges and problems are certain to arise. This is the time to rely on your business continuity and disaster recovery plan.
If you don’t have a plan in place, being in a crisis or “disaster” doesn’t mean it’s too late to create one. Now is the time to be thinking about what may happen (not only now, but in 30 days, in 90 days, in 180 days from now), since we don’t know how long the current situation will last for all of us.
The following are 8 essential parts and questions to ask yourself to create an effective plan (or evaluate your current plan).
- First ask, “who is the person(s) that declares this a disaster?” There needs to be a defined set of people that can say “this is a disaster, implement the plan” to prevent errantly setting things in motion.
- Once the crisis/disaster has been declared, how will this be communicated to employees? It’s possible that normal means of communication like email or phones may be down. Is there a website or other source employees can check for information? How do you plan to handle that?
- What are your critical business processes or functions of your business? You should identify the processes that are essential for the business to operate. For example, what are you contracted or obligated to do? What has to happen for the business to operate on its most basic levels? Things like manufacturing, recruiting, sales, etc.
- For each of those critical processes, how long of an outage can each business process handle? For some processes, you might be able to withstand a year. For others, it might only be a few months before risks and problems begin to outweigh the value brought by the specific business process or function.
- What things/resources/. What technology is in place or needs to be put in place to continue working? Is there a better or more efficient way to do what you’ve been doing?
- How do you re-establish each of those resources if they are no longer available because of the disaster? What happens if equipment or servers get knocked out? What if you have specific computers that run specific software that is only in your office? What’s your contingency plan?
- How will you get replacement resources you need? Are you already lined up to get them? Do you have someone in place to help you find another factory or manufacturer? What about just to get replacement computers? Do you have a staffing agency set up for any freelance/temp workers you may need? If you don’t have your resources lined up, you may find yourself waiting in line with others for the same things.
- For each of your critical processes, you need a process to re-establish the new resources. What if you have to move 50 miles away or even just across town? How do you reconstitute these processes?
Once you’ve written up the process, you can then look at how long this will all take you. That said, make sure you look at a realistic “worst” case scenario. Note: we aren’t saying the absolute worst-case scenario, but a realistic one. The difference is that a realistic one is far more probable and focuses on the loss of critical processes and their respective supporting technology and resources. You don’t want to lose time to plans that only affect non-essential aspects of your business.
Then, consider: how do these plans compare to the maximum outage time noted above? If it exceeds the time above, you might need to think about alternative ways or different solutions in order to get help.
As more features of our businesses rely on some piece of technology (software, hardware, even sometimes specific code), auditing which business process relies on which of your company’s technology platforms, software, and the like will help you reassess, cut, or augment resources in the most efficient manner.
And of course, you need a plan to restore things back to “normal” operations once things return to a “normal” state. For example, if you’ve given people new laptops to work from home, how do you transition them back into your existing work systems? This will be true for any process you’ve had to stand up during the crisis time-period.
While you are experiencing this change in workflow and process, surveying your employees regularly can help identify problems and help you get back to “normal” more quickly. Asking for regular employee feedback can help identify problems before they become bigger problems. We recommend setting up a means to gather that feedback, and to centralize the data you gather from that feedback, as soon as possible.
Most companies are looking for ways to save money right now. Preparing for any and all phases of a crisis will likely save you money in the long term as it will reduce time lost to reaction and keep your business focused on continuing to provide value in efficient ways.
If you have questions about any of the above, let us know. We’d be happy to help.
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