COVID 19, The need for business risk management and continuity plans for SMEs

by Michael Jjingo

As the world grapples with the COVID 19 pandemic, many organizations are at risk of short staffing or unavailable workers and services, but disaster recovery and business continuity plans can help sustain business.

The need for risk management and business continuity plans is becoming more critical to firms as they adjust to the business disruptions caused by the coronavirus. Well, a virus in and of itself can’t shut your company’s systems, operations, or services down, but it can impact how a business functions, especially if people are quarantined at home or too sick to work or experience a network outage or other disruptions.

In as much as It’s not usual for businesses to face a pandemic like Covid19, but natural disasters, man-made disasters, security threats, and natural calamities (such as landslides or high magnitude earthquake) that are a reality, if businesses are to be guaranteed continuity, they should ensure a smooth recovery process and steadiness of operations, which is critical that they do a risk assessment and develop a recovery of services strategy.

Could we pose the question, “How can an organization ensure that business processes will be minimally interrupted?” How can businesses ensure staff safety, customer safety, data backup plans or recover lost data after a crisis? What safeguards and safety procedures can they implement for their employees to ensure continuity?

True, Businesses may also face other business disruptions such as thunder strikes, network outages, revenue loss, data loss, security vulnerabilities and threats, and stifled productivity, to name a few, but then, we must note that several businesses will not recover from the lock down, especially those that are not fully operating as of yet including; schools, bars, tour companies among others. Nonetheless, this doesn’t have to happen when a proper business continuity plan is in place.

The business continuity plans should include emergency provisions for workers to work remotely, while at home, and the support systems, which will require the company to invest money and time in ensuring a smooth recovery process following any type of natural or man-made disaster.

As a matter of Continuity of business operations, businesses should Implement remote access infrastructure that is capable of supporting the entire workforce (Wi-Fi devices, and other gadgets). SMEs should ensure proper access to necessary resources at the office even when workers are working remotely. There is need to keep employees online by offering them data, training, support allowances, and constantly communicating with them which is pertinent.

As a matter of self-support, Workers should also plan in advance for a major disaster by establishing a comfortable and quiet space to work from home (a dedicated office is optimal; routine, periodic testing of remote access)

Indeed, all smart business managers must identify potential threats for their areas of business. The business continuity plan may apply to any number of scenarios in which the business could be disrupted, from power outages, to employee strikes, to cyber-attacks on computer networks, then the most recent COVID 19.

In addition to knowing the threats that could derail your operations, it’s important to walk through what will happen in the wake of such catastrophes. If you’re unprepared for this possibility, chances are you will end up paying the ransom in order to regain control of your business.
As a matter of recovery planning, a technical team must be created.

Whether you hire say, an in-house risk management staff or you work with a third-party vendor, you are going to need a team in place that can bounce into action when a disaster strikes. This team could help to create your business continuity plan as well as implement it, should the need arise.

In a nutshell, while rehearsing the Business continuity plan, a solid plan will have to identify essential business functions and find ways to restore them in the event of a partial or complete shutdown. The goal is to have minimal disruption but continue the greater part of the business delivery lines with ease.

The writer is the General Manager – Commercial Banking at Centenary Bank.

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