Ensuring Business Continuity during the COVID-19 Pandemic
We are experiencing a tipping point in human history. Many things might change. Society is under a new kind of threat, a challenge that is transforming not only the way we live and interact with each other but also our business continuity.
Our global economy is being turned on its head, reshaping industries with unprecedented challenges and uncertainties, but also opening new opportunities. Organizations are accelerating their digital transformation processes while their teams try to adapt to those changes as fast as they can.
Many countries across the globe have established new rules & legislations that impact human behavior and are demanding people and companies to define new ways of working.
Some companies have already started their transformational path of their operating models and some others are still in definition on where to begin. COVID-19 is pushing us to define and roll out these new models, faster than originally thought.
Best practices in leveraging technology and data for better business decisions can accelerate the right path to transformation. This needs to be accompanied by changes in processes and culture. There’s no digital transformation without a cognitive transformation.
We need to reshape not only our habits, behaviors and the way we interact with each other but also the way we think our business and the way we innovate beyond industries and regions.
Business Continuity Model
At Globant, we have been leveraging technology and data to manage our distributed workforce across many continents and executing multiple projects for multiple industries. Our business processes are able to reduce the impact of the measures some countries have defined to manage the COVID-19 crisis.
To put our expertise on the table, we have established a business continuity model on core processes to enable any type of business, small or big, traditional or digital, to minimize their operational challenges and keep operating critical processes, due to having to work with a distributed workforce.
From now on, organizations should stay flexible enough and prepare for quarantined employees, office and facilities shutdowns, decrease in travel for face to face meetings, abrupt changes in the behavior of your customers and all stakeholders. A quick turnaround project, that focuses enabling core processes on three critical areas:
Turning your company into a fully remote operation will require senior management to have a clear understanding of the day-to-day necessities of their teams.
First, make sure your employees have access to the tools they need to do their jobs at the required scale (solid internet connection, a second monitor, etc). Connecting with teams regularly via video conferencing will be essential to maintain the necessary routine and delivery schedule.
Compliance issues can be segmented based on priority. It is paramount to stay committed to cybersecurity and privacy standards, but you can be flexible with secondary compliances such as paperwork related to new devices, or tickets for small purchases.
Finally, ensure that your employees can carry out their duties via a user-friendly, customer-centric approach. While it’s important to establish a sense of calm steadfastness, employees must understand the company-wide need to innovate and find new ways to satisfy current clients and to find new ones.
If your company hasn’t done so already, identify and map your core processes to assess their reassignment and adaptation. If possible, distribute risk by relocating critical work among different locations. Core processes must be adapted to the crisis situation to ensure continuity and minimal impact.
To oversee the transition, build a multidisciplinary crisis management team that includes one senior manager from each of the following areas: Infrastructure, Comms, Legal, External Experts (epidemiologist for example), Operations, People / HR and build a contingency plan, with different scenarios, action plan, owners and responsibilities.
All travel that is not supremely essential must be cancelled, with meetings moved online as much as possible. Managers must be out in front with a planned cascade of possible actions. Finally, remember that as these changes do occur, based on your crisis management team’s decisions, please note that employees must be informed promptly and guided through these changes accordingly.
A targeted, high impact communications strategy within the company is key for an effective transition and the adoption of safe behaviors, also for strengthening relationships for geographically dispersed or remote workers.
Establish a centralized set of channels for all employees to use if they have issues, questions or concerns, including email, direct messaging and daily, weekly or biweekly open Q&A sessions.
To simplify the crisis-specific concerns for your employees to stay connected, create a mailing list for your crisis management team to stay connected: firstname.lastname@example.org and stay tuned every day of what’s going on in your organization around the globe. Develop, implement, and communicate as soon as possible your main workplace flexibilities to all your employees.
Additionally, having an effective outward communications strategy will be essential to ensure your company’s relationships with its client and supplier communities.
Throughout the world, mandatory social distancing is affecting marketing initiatives and investment: events, fairs and congresses must now go digital, content calendar priorities change, making inbound marketing now more important than ever.
Cancel all events and make them virtual if possible or postpone them. Validate your ongoing communication channels’ readiness for change to reach to every stakeholder.
This global crisis forces leaders to think completely out of the box in order to save their business and protect not only the monthly income but also the health of their employees and their families.
Global leaders must take proactive action by providing their teams with the right infrastructure and tools to work from home, flexibilize their operations and processes as fast as they can without risking their cybersecurity and compliance standards and put in place business continuity plans that adapt geographically and culturally to local regulations and prevent many different scenarios.
COVID-19 is a global challenge that we all share at the same time and invites us to forget about differences and work together towards a common goal.
It’s time to accelerate digital and cognitive transformation, it’s time to be more creative and agile, it’s time to be kind, to find and create new opportunities with a cross-industry, collaborative mindset.