CRISIS MANAGEMENT

Safeguarding business continuity in times of crisis

Corporate entities and service providers have had to re-strategise internal business processes

In Summary

•It is crucial that remote access to key resources and tools is granted to enable the continuity of service delivery

•It is essential to establish a Crisis Response Team (CRT), spearheaded by the Chief Information Officer or another executive of similar rank

A woman works at the packaging unit at a warehouse for an online store, Jumia
A woman works at the packaging unit at a warehouse for an online store, Jumia
Image: REUTERS

Social distancing and self-isolation precautionary measures have been implemented in a vast majority of countries with reported cases, inclusive of Kenya, in a bid to tamper the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Practically, the movement of people has been strategically limited or restricted with a view to flatten the growth curve of the world health pandemic. This has necessitated corporate entities and service providers to re-strategise internal business processes in order to mitigate business productivity and continuity disruptions.

Ensuring business continuity in the midst of the COVID-19 threat requires a well-defined Business Continuity Plan (BCP), customised to the specific needs of a particular business. The BCP should outline strategic responses required from management and members of staff when confronted with critical or force majeure threats to the interests of the business.

Where management and members of staff are required to practice social distancing and self-isolation measures, which may require limiting personnel working in the office to essential or critical members of staff while the reminder work remotely, it is crucial that remote access to key resources and tools is granted to enable the continuity of service delivery.

This would include making remote networking infrastructure, such as Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams and cloud databases available to business personnel, to facilitate effective collaboration between various teams. Further, it is imperative that members of staff are adequately trained on the tools and resources made available to them to ensure the same is efficacious in maintaining business productivity during times of crisis.

In addition to the above, it is essential for BCPs to outline critical staff and their roles in the event of a critical or force majeure threat to the business. This includes establishing a Crisis Response Team (CRT), spearheaded by the Chief Information Officer or another executive of similar rank, mandated with managing the business’ response to the identified threat.

The CRT ought to be in a position to monitor the risk incidences relating to the identified threat and craft timely and effective mitigation strategies to the same. Similarly, the CRT ought to maintain adequate communication channels with shareholders, management, members of staff, customers and other business stakeholders highlighting the business’ response to the identified threat.

While having BCPs in place is crucial to the survival of business during times of crisis, management ought to ensure that established BCPs are tested in practical scenarios for them to be truly beneficial. Testing the BCPs in practical scenarios provides comfort to management and members of staff that the business is prepared to withstand existential shocks. Further, testing allows for the identification of gaps and shortcomings in the BCPs, thereby allowing additional refinement and customization.

Businesses are encouraged to rely on their BCPs during the COVID-19 crisis. This will mitigate the most severe disruptions caused by the global pandemic.

Karen Kandie – MD IDB Capital