Benefits of an Agile Process Management During a Catastrophe

When the initial cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in China at the end of 2019, no one could have imagined the scale at which this avalanche would roll across the world. Four months in, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought entire countries to a standstill and pushed businesses down to their knees as they clamber for ways to stay afloat in these uncertain times.

Coping with this shockwave has been easier for some companies than others. To be fair, a pandemic is quite unlike other uncertainties such as a natural disaster or a fire. While the latter’s impact is limited to a smaller area and for a shorter duration, the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted supply chains and forced a chunk of non-essential businesses to adapt to a remote working infrastructure.

The contingency plan for a pandemic would require quite a diversion from a regular business continuity plan, with the primary focus being on personnel safety while ensuring that the business does not shut down. Yet, businesses with an agile disaster-management team have been able to handle the transition with less disruption than those which don’t.

Armed for the Worst

An effective business continuity plan will address three broad aspects: personnel management, workflow and process efficiency, and business equipment or assets.

When a contagious disease makes its rounds, the first two elements are under the most pressure. Absenteeism is much higher and for longer periods than in a normal flu season. However, a disaster management team that ensures all employees are cross-trained in essential activities and therefor is are availability of reserve or back-up staff, ensure sure that a higher-than-usual absence will not impact critical workflow.

Similarly, businesses that encourage employees to routinely work from home under normal circumstances would already have a robust remote-working infrastructure in place. In the present circumstance, management would simply have to find a way to scale the arrangement across a larger workforce.

While managing a remote workforce efficiently is one side of the coin, the other is to ensure safe transmission of data across these scattered, make-shift work zones. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of small- and mid-sized businesses whose data is compromised go out of work within six months. An effective exigency plan would already have strong cybersecurity procedures and offsite data backups in place to manage a potential data hiccup.

But it takes more than identifying the internal cogs. Businesses will also need to manage possible external setbacks like delays or scarcity of certain materials, pullback from key clients, and shortage of funds. Identifying alternative suppliers or substitute materials, providing only absolutely essential services to hesitant clients so as to continue the business relationship, and careful allocation of money to indispensable areas are some ways to tackle these pitfalls.

Keeping the Ball Rolling

Until recently, pandemic management was nothing more than a single line in a continuity plan that was frequently overlooked. With the threat now real, it is important for businesses to seriously consider how equipped they are to ensure the safety of their human and other business resources during this time. Simultaneously, taking a leaf out of this experience, businesses should also prepare to operate in a post-pandemic world that is likely to function very differently from the pre-pandemic one.

Allsec offers robust BCP and Disaster Recovery services. Reach out to us to know more about keeping your business in the green, even during a global pandemic.