Business Continuity: Planning Proves Essential
By MNP Q&A
By MNP Q&A
An interview with Philip Racco, MNP, Senior Manager, Enterprise Risk Services
The Fundamentals of Communication and Process
Communication is fundamental. If you can communicate with a good vertical and horizontal flow of information you can get through anything and can solve any problem. This is true when it’s business as usual, but particularly so when you’re responding to an event such as the pandemic. Similarly, process is fundamental. It’s about getting the right people in the room – real or virtual – and being able to actually look at the information, take it in, analyze it and communicate it out. Have a diversity of perspectives and opinions as much as humanly possible. Get different opinions and even dissenting opinions. Dissenting voices either validate your perspective as they shed light on things that are incorrect, or they give you something that you have might not have thought of. Make sure that everybody has an understanding about their roles and responsibilities. Who can make a call on certain things, who is responsible for certain aspects of the business?
Preparedness is Key
Emergency management plans and disaster recovery plans are a must. I have a long list of clients who said they were so glad they had business continuity plans. You didn’t want to be one of those companies that didn’t have these plans in place. But it’s pointless to have an emergency plan if you don’t practice it. Exercising is a must. Start your exercise by setting certain objectives. Do we want to test how well we communicate? Do a scenario analysis about, say, stresses on your supply chain. This preparation helps you in regular operations as well as when you have to respond to an event. Having flexibility for your people to be able to work in different ways – maybe moving from paper to DocuSign, or working in a virtual environment – are improvements that an organization can make anyway.
This has been an event like none of us will hopefully experience ever again. So if you feel that either you are more prepared than you previously thought, or less prepared, capture those lessons. Do a debrief on your response to COVID. Ask yourself, what worked? What didn’t work? What should we start doing and what should we stop doing? What do we need to improve on or further expand on? What are the risks that we introduced by working from home? What are the privacy implications? What are the cybersecurity implications?
How can we use things like robotic process automation (RPA) to take some of the administrative tasks off of people’s plates? It’s not just about considering the negative. There are opportunities in crises. Try to determine where those opportunities might lie.
Early on, some of the clients I work with asked if they should be activating their emergency response plans. If you’re not sure, activate. Go big early and pare back if necessary. Don’t wait until the crisis has evolved. Those people who brought out their plans right away, reached out to their stakeholders, they were better off than those that didn’t.
If everything’s a big risk, nothing’s a big risk. If everything’s a priority, nothing is a priority. You need to analyze the risks and determine which ones are acceptable and which ones you have to do something about. This will depend on the situation you’re currently in, and it will change based on the information you have, and your own personal and businesses experiences. Principles and fundamentals are a lot more important than absolutes. Checklists are important: You want the pilot to go through the checklist before the plane takes off. But you’re better served by having a good understanding of the key principles and fundamentals of your plan across different parts of the organization.
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