Brands must focus resources on quickly adjusting strategy and goals as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, for which only 12% of businesses feel highly prepared, according to a Gartner survey of 1,500 respondents. Many organizations rely on business continuity plans to help them navigate how to continue operating in the midst or the wake of a disaster. These plans are typically created in advance of emergencies — COVID-19 is one that many people and businesses did not see coming. The specifics of every company’s business continuity plan will look different and will vary depending on the disaster. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at a few of the key areas that should be addressed in a COVID-19 business continuity plan.
Requirements to Keep Business Operating
Here’s the cold hard truth, delivered to you straight by EY: “Most businesses are likely to experience significant disruption to their business-as-usual operations and will face business underperformance throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.” Restaurants and retailers have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Their business relies largely on in-store sales. With brick-and-mortar locations closed for regular business, restaurants and retailers are missing a significant revenue stream and must adjust their strategy quickly to make up lost ground. It’s time to get creative. Expand your distribution network; tap delivery partners like UberEats and DoorDash. Motivate people to order from your restaurant rather than cook at home. Make sure your digital presence is superb — equal if not better than your in-store experience.
You may have set objectives for your business a year ago–maybe more–and created plans around those objectives. As a result of the pandemic, those goals and those plans may not make sense or be possible anymore. As a result, Gartner recommends asking functional leaders to reconsider 2020 forecasts, while avoiding disruptions of key strategies and priorities and short-term overreactions by functional leaders. And as EY suggests, “Companies will want to stress-test financial plans for multiple scenarios to understand the potential impact on financial performance and assess how long the impact may continue.”
There will be a day when physical stores and restaurants will open again and social distancing restrictions will be loosened. When that day comes–and we hope it’s soon–consumer behavior won’t suddenly revert to the way it was pre-pandemic. Not knowing when normal life will resume and what that new-normal will look like makes it challenging to formulate a plan for recovery; however, BCPs are typically created for hypothetical (often worst case) scenarios. Use as much data as you can to inform strategies for multiple post-pandemic scenarios and be realistic about what you expect to recover.
Continue to Adjust
The COVID situation is rapidly developing, and the information that was the most accurate today might not be tomorrow. Resultantly, your COVID continuity plan will not be set-it-and-forget-it. As new information becomes available brands must revisit their plan and update it according to the latest data, as mentioned above. As EY explains, “Once the COVID-19 outbreak is controlled, companies will want to review and renew business continuity plans (BCP). They’ll want to assess how existing BCPs are working.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is a disaster that few predicted and even fewer were prepared for. Life and business-as-usual has been disrupted in a predominantly negative way.
And even today, months after the outbreak started, the future is still so uncertain. Despite facing the unknown, businesses can still plan. If they are going to continue to operate and come out the other side of this, they need to plan, however daunting a task it may be. Now is the time to start.