Before we go any further, let’s stress that we’re currently not in a post-Corona Virus world, even though we’re making tentative steps back to a semblance of ‘normal,’ we’re still very much in the trenches. The digital landscape has shifted, and we’re currently living in a new normal.
This pandemic has revealed much about our clients’ processes and procedures; chief among them was those not prepared for the worst had suffered the most. Creating and installing a business continuity plan (BCP) is vital for enterprises of all sizes. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
An organisation’s ability to maintain essential functions and remain flexible during a crisis is known as a business continuity plan. Business continuity can be defined as ‘the processes, procedures, decisions, and activities to ensure that an organization can continue to function through an operational interruption.
Interruptions can include:
- Natural disasters
- Systems and network issues
- Unplanned staff absence
- Losing a key employee
- Remote working
- And, a global pandemic
COVID-19 has exposed the need for better speed and agility, the scalable ability of operational teams, the remote coordination of those teams, and the collaboration changes brought on by remote working. It also revealed serious knowledge silos, a lack of process governance and control, and process visibility limitations.
The three pillars of a BCP
A business continuity plan is made up of three key elements: resilience, recovery, and contingency.
An organisation can boost their resilience by designing core functions and infrastructures with ‘disaster mode’ as critical components. This can include data redundancy, staff rotation, and a capacity surplus on standby. Getting resiliency right means essential services can be maintained on and off-site without significant disruption.
Rapid recovery time to restore core business functions after a significant disruption is critical. Outlaying recovery time objectives for different networks or applications can help IT, and the BCP team prioritize which elements need to be recovered first. A recovery strategy also includes resource inventories, third party agreements in place to take over when needed, and the right tools on hand for each member of the team to get back to work ASAP.
A contingency plan is the procedures outlined in case the first two steps don’t go accordingly. These can include hardware backups, the leasing of temporary office space if remote working is not functioning, and contract in place with third-party vendors should you need the assistance to fill an order or maintain a supplier relationship.
Chiefly though, it encourages a proactive enterprise-wide mindset. Proactive measures that include:
- Continuous process improvement
- Full and ongoing utilization of available resources
- Identifying and tracking everyday threats
- Virtualisation and deployment of digital technologies
Rethinking your BCP
It’s not too late to implement a BCP. You either need to install or refine your business continuity plan in the event of a second wave of the pandemic or something as small as a continued absence of a critical member of the team. Here are four steps you can action today.
Enable your teams with the right technology
Cloud-enabled solutions and a secure VPN means more and more jobs can be done remotely, but an effective BCP also considers where employees will be working.
Working within the order management sector, we’ve witnessed this in action. An automated, intelligent platform meant that despite the surge and change in workload coupled with a remote work transition, suppliers could meet the new demands in production capacity and delivery workload.
COVID meant fulfilment teams had to adjust to new processes and, in many cases, manage significant increases in demand overnight. For many suppliers, it meant a reduction in the number of SKUs they provided while only facilitating production runs of core items. How could they accurately identify orders from customers requesting SKUs that may have been discontinued and communicate this across? Other clients had to create new SKUs or change the portfolio of established customers. Again, these changes needed to be governed and managed remotely and virtually.
A cloud-enabled solution meant that even when teams were dispersed, and a torrential downpour of demand washed over them, they were able to cope as workloads were automatically allocated, exceptions identified and processes were controlled and visible.
This is why a massive part of any successful BCP is utilising scalable technology that can be operated from anywhere and can respond to new requirements without significant disruption.
Being flexible enough to adapt and evolve is critical. Your plan also needs to establish how operational teams will communicate externally with customers, suppliers, and third-party provers. Consider how communications can be made more efficient and, in the COVID world of remote working, how to manage isolated internet outages. For example, if a team member were to lose internet or phone connection.
Put people first
All of the above is rendered irrelevant without the buy-in and support of your team. There is enormous potential for companies around the world to now drive digital change and create a transformational culture.
COVID-19 has increased the pressure faced by customers and suppliers alike. With enforced remote working and new job requirements squeezing time from the day, having lean and automated processes help them avoid being bogged down by tasks that don’t add value to the organisation, or the customer.
This digital journey needs clear leadership and support from the top down. It means trusting your employees to do more, expanding their responsibilities, and adopting new structures and processes resulting from the pandemic to maximise output going forward.
Light at the end of the tunnel
We can’t predict the future, but we can use data to give us the best guess. One sure thing is that disasters will happen. Having a flexible and up to date business continuity plan will provide you with the confidence that no matter what the world throws at you, your organisation can handle it.
Once you’ve established your BCP, the first step going forward is figuring out how to de-risk your processes. Check back here next week to learn how to do that or sign up below to ensure each blog in this series comes directly to your inbox.
OmPrompt’s fully managed order management platform makes it easy for companies worldwide to trade with each other. The cloud platform connects manufacturers and retailers via EDI to their customers, suppliers, and third-party providers.
It automates the processing of the other manual documents to capture, create, fulfill, and settling processes. With one platform, businesses can connect to any trading partner, digitise any document, and process any format. Clients can achieve end-to-end visibility, focus on their core operations, and quickly see the benefits of automation.