Business Continuity Plans in the COVID-19 Pandemic
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has disrupted economic markets and created profound uncertainty in supply chains and business operations across the globe. Every day, we learn more about its very real and still-potential future impact on business and economic activity. However, as we discussed here and here, there are steps you can take immediately to mitigate this impact. Especially as it relates to your business continuity plans with your critical service providers.
Here are the three key elements to effect business continuity planning:
Assess rapidly as the situation occurs. Collect and review all documentation related to business continuity plans (BCP) in your operation now. This includes the master service agreement (MSA), exhibits, schedules, attachments and operational documentation and manuals for business continuity in the event of a declared disaster. Consider the business impact of the present COVID-19 pandemic. Prioritize your managed services relationships and focus on the most important first. Once they have been addressed, take the same proactive steps with the next tier of services. ISG has provided a free tool for you to use for this purpose.
Redesign the BCP for your critical processes quickly with your internal business stakeholders and providers. As soon as is practical, begin to work proactively with key managed services providers to find ways to ensure continuity of those services or parts of services that are vital to your firm’s business. We have provided guidance in evaluating the key processes. In this planning, recognize that this situation will be affecting all the providers’ clients – not only the services they deliver to your firm. Be aware that even your own local infrastructure will be used at or above its engineered capacity because every other business in your locale is also having to respond to COVID-19. For example, internet connectivity may not be able to sustain conference calls with video depending on where and when traffic peaks.
Engage with managed service providers to rework your BCP and associated contract language, if necessary, to address the following:
- Capability and capacity for remote service delivery (for example, telecommuting) apart from the service provider building location for designated services.
- The hardware, software, infrastructure, telephony and staffing resource requirements for remote service delivery.
In the future, reconsider BCP on a regular cadence. Learn from the current situation by adjusting the governance requirements that enable future changes to BCP. A BCP should be a living document. Ongoing changes should be considered based on circumstances, such as the following:
- Unforeseen geo-political or geo-exposure risks that could change the trigger point for a declared disaster
- Technological advances in the marketplace that could better facilitate stable operations in the event of declared disaster
- Dynamics in the client organization that change the breadth and depth of service delivery requirements.
Ultimately, no one can accurately predict the downstream impact of COVID-19 on today’s business ecosystem or the larger economy. An immediate move toward BCP assessment is a measure of assurance and insurance. It can provide enterprises with the necessary lifeline to survive and even potentially thrive through a recovery. Successful companies plan for the best of times and prepare for the worst.
Begin now to prioritize which services must continue and which do not. Accept up front that service may degrade for a time period and plan accordingly. By carrying out these recommendations, you and your company will be better prepared to face the evolving global situation and mitigate the impact of the impacts on your workforce, your operations and your customers.
ISG helps enterprises evaluate business continuity plans and prioritize activities to mitigate risk and minimize disruption. Contact us to discuss how we can help.