This short article is a departure from my customary writings on Lean / SixSigma practices, and will be a very short but important outline to Business Crisis And Continuity Management, specifically speaking to government defined essential services, with potentially relevant points to general business also.
In my observations of many businesses over the years, it’s obvious to me that this subject more often than not takes a back-seat to current business priorities. So, I haven’t any question that given government mandated business closures in the current COVID world, this topic is now highly relevant.
My past involves working within expert teams in an analyst and developer/programmer role to create crisis identification and mitigation strategies and applications in a global sourcing environment.
This is the (very) short and sweet formula any business can use to set their compass in the right direction. (The standard procedure is to use a Business Impact Analysis to establish a Business Continuity Plan, however in this article we are keeping things ultra simple).
In a business crisis, maintaining a specific core continuity is king. To do so, one needs to immediately protect their Business Critical Resources. The business critical resources are:
Critical Situation Psychology: This is the single most important piece. People in an organization will have many different perspectives of a crisis situation. People by nature will go through a phase of “distancing” themselves from the crisis realities at hand before accepting them as real and critical. One person could go through this phase in a minute, another person might need hours, another person might never come to the realization without a push from leadership. It is imperative that leadership bring everyone in the organization on the same page in regard to their perspective of the crisis at hand. With this, everyone will team to work toward solutions based on a like understanding and urgency.
Business Critical People: These will be the managers or key workers of critical processes to the business. These people should be given managements greatest attention and protection, because they hold the business intelligence to keep the business running. In a domestic crisis such as we see with the COVID environment, protection would involve self quarantine with tele-communication/conferencing equipment.
Business Critical Information: The very first priority of the business critical people, should be to solidify business critical information. They should review or create SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) for currency and completeness, of the most vital core business functions. This is business insurance that the business will still run, if a key person becomes ill or worse.
Business Critical Focus: In normal times, an organization runs on three tiers of needs – Must Have, Important To Have, Like To Have. All focus should drop Important and Like, and focus on Must Have. (For example, in a healthcare setting housekeeping role, they clean and disinfect. In a COVID environment, the Must Have is disinfecting and preventing virus cross-contamination, the Important To Have is cleaning. It would serve the business better to re-arrange housekeeping time and tasks to focus highly on disinfecting/containment, while cleaning takes a lesser priority.)
Business Critical Supply Chain: The final crisis management priority is to address is keeping business critical supplies on the shelves, anticipating shortages will be widespread. There are many strategies to utilize to this end. In the COVID environment, some health organizations are moving to make their own reusable PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) supplies. Another example may be stocking diabetic medication – while there are many brands, it was recently determined that only three medication types could serve more than 80% of the demand. It’s this type of creatively thinking outside of the box, that can provide supply needs in times of crisis.
If your organization hasn’t updated a Business Continuity Plan recently, I’ll hope that this short and simple five point article provided you a good starting compass heading toward the right direction.