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How can you guarantee the continuity of your business during and after the coronavirus crisis?

Monday 20/04/2020

The COVID-19 virus has hit the heart of the global economy. Almost every industry and every organisation is experiencing the impact of this unprecedented crisis. Business Continuity Management helps companies to overcome crises and emerge stronger than ever.

  • How can companies prepare for calamities?
  • Do you have a scenario for any future setbacks?

Some companies are forced to shut down completely. Other businesses have introduced temporary unemployment schemes. Yet another group of companies is so busy that it can barely keep up with incoming orders. The impact is huge and unexpected everywhere. No one predicted that the virus that emerged in China in January would affect the entire world three months later. No government, no company, no organisation was prepared for a crisis of this magnitude.

During a crisis, companies lose some or all control of their business operations: employees call in sick, customers cancel and suppliers are at a standstill. Managers are trying to keep the ship afloat, or at least direct it to the nearest port, where it can dock until the storm has blown over.

Now that the first consequences of the coronavirus crisis are becoming apparent to most companies, it is wise to reflect on how your company is dealing with unforeseen circumstances. Few companies were expecting a pandemic, particularly here in Belgium and Europe as a whole. However, we can be certain that there will be more crises to overcome in the future. Perhaps those crises will not be of this scale. We certainly hope so. But sooner or later every company has to face a significant challenge. What if a cyberattack shuts down your IT systems? What if your biggest supplier suddenly goes bankrupt? What if several key employees leave your company around the same time? What if a fire breaks out?

Your company is probably insured for many of these setbacks. However, this usually does not cover the indirect costs. Your IT systems may be up and running again a week after the cyberattack and the damage of a week of unemployment will be covered, but what will be the long-term damage? To what extent has your reputation with your customers and suppliers been affected?

Business Continuity Management in four steps

The solution for such unexpected circumstances is Business Continuity Management (BCM). Taking a planned approach prepares companies for a crisis. It allows them to guarantee the continuity of their business even in difficult circumstances. Business Continuity Management avoids having to improvise from scratch in a crisis. A crisis can never be predicted 100% and the circumstances will be different every time, but if the worst case scenario is taken into account, companies can survive a crisis and emerge even stronger afterwards.

Business Continuity Management follows a few essential steps:

  1. Before the crisis: you need to identify the threats. Make an overview of the various scenarios. Find out the organisation's vulnerability in each scenario and focus on its weaknesses. This allows you to stop incidents or setbacks from developing into scenarios.
  2. During the crisis: you need to try to get to grips with the situation as soon as possible. The important thing there is to reduce the impact of an incident or setback and to minimise the risk to your business continuity.
  3. After the crisis: the company must start up again. The coronavirus has clearly shown that a crisis can hit a business very hard quickly and unexpectedly and that it will take a long time to recover. It is best to start thinking and planning well in advance to get the company back on track as soon as possible.
  4. Training and education: during a crisis a team must be confident in order to deal with the situation decisively. This can only be done by training different scenarios, so that everyone knows what to do when the time comes. This is a continuous responsibility. If a company waits until a crisis actually happens to train its people, it will be too late. Preparation is everything: if you are well prepared, you will be a lot more confident in your actions.

This approach can also be certified with the international standard ISO 22301 – Business Continuity Management (BCM).  This universal foundation has already proven its effectiveness in many organisations.

Never waste a good crisis

Companies can really make a difference in unexpected circumstances. In Chinese, the word 'crisis' means both 'danger' and 'opportunity', which implies that setbacks can be turned into opportunities.

Moore wants to help you to grow your business. Preparing for difficult circumstances is one of the most important pillars of continuity and sustainable growth.

If you are wondering how you can get started with Business Continuity Management yourself, do not hesitate to contact us.

Contact one of our experts
Dirk Roelens
Dirk Roelens
Partner Business Consulting