COVID 19 – Business Continuity Insights
Over the course of the summer, we are featuring members of the OTUS Group network to provide you with some interesting perspective on what they do and insight you can use during these challenging times.
This week we would like to introduce Alex Jankovic. He is a founder and principal consultant at StratoGrid Advisory, an Ottawa business continuity management consulting and firm. Alex is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) with over 20 years of business continuity management and information technology experience.
Tell us a bit about StratoGrid Advisory and your primary areas of focus:
StratoGrid Advisory is a management consulting Firm founded in 2015. Our primary focus is to provide business continuity management (BCM) advisory services to organizations of all sizes and in virtually any industry. Our mission is to improve the organization’s resiliency posture and its readiness to effectively respond to unexpected events that can disrupt their business operations.
What are some of the most significant challenges you have seen with business continuity planning so far during COVID-19?
Unfortunately, many organizations now have a much better understanding of how global pandemics can introduce significant challenges to their operations and overall business continuity planning efforts. Our finding is that many organizations were either not ready at all (lack of BCM program) or not adequately prepared for this type of event.
Most of the past planning efforts were focused on short to medium-term loss of facilities or technology failures. Many organizations quickly realized that some of the traditional business continuity strategies, such as alternate facilities or split operations (ability to execute a business function at multiple locations), would not be able to address or minimize COVID-19 pandemic impacts. An ability to quickly mobilize their workforce to work remotely was never tested or exercised. There were many lessons learned on the initial business continuity response in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, and organizations will need to address these challenges.
Additionally, many organizations discovered significant vulnerabilities in their supply chain and vendor management programs. Many of the downstream business partners were themselves ill-prepared for a global pandemic event, which adversely impacted their organization’s ability to deliver services, manufacture products and continue their operations.
As we continue to emerge from the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, what should organizations be doing with their business continuity planning?
Presently, organizations are working on the development and implementation of their business resumption strategies. This initiative typically requires the collaboration of all the organization’s internal partners (e.g. senior leadership, human resources, IT) and external partners such as facility management or supply chain organizations.
To further complicate business resumption planning efforts, the “new norm” is a moving target, and nobody knows how COVID-19 will develop over time. The possibility of a second wave is very real. Quite a few organizations, such as Facebook or Shopify, already decided that working remotely will be the preferred way to deliver their services in the future. Days of driving to the office to sit in a germ infected cubicle or an open office could be numbered. The long-term business continuity impacts of these strategies will need to be addressed.
Working remotely will bring new business continuity planning challenges, which we outlined in an article recently published on our Business Continuity Blog. Business Continuity Planners will need to audit their current BCM Programs and extend their Business Impact Analysis (BIA) efforts to identify risks and impacts which a permanent remote workforce can introduce.
As an example, an area of concern could be a capability to deliver mission-critical functions remotely, when employees are dispersed over a large geographical area (city, province/state), and connected over a non-business grade internet connection. It will be imperative for organizations to cross-train their staff, and test and exercise these scenarios to ensure their response readiness.
Our advice for organizations that have not implemented a robust BCM program or do not have a business continuity plan is that now is an excellent time to start working on one. Activities such as Business Impact Analysis will identify mission-critical functions and resources (people, technology, and vital records) required to deliver those functions.
The larger organizations with implemented BCM programs should review their hopefully documented COVID-19 lessons learned, identify current program gaps and start implementing strategies to mitigate newly identified risks.
If your organization requires Business Continuity Planning assistance, we can be reached at 613.518.2440, or www.StratoGrid.com