Covid-19 pandemic has forced many organisations to critically re-evaluate the adequacy of their existing business continuity plan or if they have any? A business continuity plan is an important tool in underlining how organisations are to remain commercially operational under the most unusual situations.
The Covid -19 outbreak has forced organisations all in Kenya and beyond to face an unprecedented event, affecting all aspects of daily and working life, including travel, trade, tourism, food supplies, and financial markets. Even though no plan or guidelines can guarantee resumption of normal working operations many significant lessons emerge from the countries such Korea, Taiwan and China that faced the pandemic outbreak before the others, the most important of which is the need for preparedness.
One of the critical areas in business that is often overlooked is the continuity of business. In many strategic plans of organisations be it small medium enterprise to blue chip companies the value of a business continuity management plan are lacking in many of these organisations.
For example during the SARS outbreak in Singapore in 2003, majority of the firms did not have any forms of business continuity plan or practices such as working offsite, compliance planning especially if you are dealing with sensitive data or technology enabled staff to work offsite.
It is through such unusual circumstances that illustrate the value of business continuity planning, which essentially involves proactive strategies, services, and technologies that enable firms to cope with disasters, ensuring at the same time the continued running of the business, identifying business interruption risks, defining strategic and tactical moves and preparing to respond.
The effects of this pandemic will shake up the entire business community in Kenya on a massive scale on a macroeconomic level. The full economic consequences of this event are still unclear, we know that the effects of Covid-1pand the drastic measures being taken to contain it are already precipitating across Kenyan industries.
It is for this and many reasons, the post-Covid-19 era will be very different from what we saw before the crisis. All businesses need to realign their strategies to cope with this, a good example is how local retailers have opened up to ecommerce to cater for the consumer needs at their comfort of their homes.
With all said and done, one key critical decision making process is putting in an action plan for a business continuity management plan. Promptness and timeliness are crucial elements in dealing with any crisis scenario. The following actions shall occur rapidly: the collection and updating of data, the transmission of the flow of information, the decisions and the actions that follow and the communication.
Pandemic flus show clearly that potential disruption loom everywhere and that the ongoing survival of our companies, families and communities depend on everyone’s ability to rapidly respond to the threats, adapting and resisting. Organisations must always be ready in any upredictable nature , even though unforeseen it is therefore extremely important that contingency managers follow a method, blueprints, guidelines and recommendations as it is almost impossible to face completely unknown situations without guidelines.
As highlighted by the World Health Organisation and compliance experts such as Paolo Cane; in the very first hours of a crisis it is important to maintain self and situational control. Forecast possible scenarios Limit or control the epidemic on site, among other measures.
As Winston Churchill once said “He who fails to plan is planning to fail”.
The writer is a lecturer at School of Business, Kenyatta University.