COVID-19 – ongoing response and recovery

COVID-19 – ongoing response and recovery
16 April 2020

COVID-19 – ongoing response and recovery

On 31 December 2019, the outbreak of a respiratory illness in Wuhan City in China was reported to the World Health Organization. At that time, it was called 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov), but has since been renamed to COVID-19. Fast forward to mid-April 2020, and over 200 countries and territories around the world have reported a total of approximately 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 123,000 related deaths.

The most obvious impact of this outbreak is how people are affected. Whether infected or not, COVID-19 and the associated preventive measures have fundamentally changed our social and professional working practices. Businesses have adopted and implemented alternative ways of working and many have downsized by furloughing their workforce. Employers have two primary considerations at this time – a duty of care to their staff, and a duty of care to their shareholders and customers.  

Business impact assessment

The first step when responding to employee absenteeism and planning business recovery is to undertake or refresh a business impact assessment (BIA).

This is a systematic process that enables an organisation to evaluate its critical functions (e.g. services, products and processes). By identifying business-critical functions, organisations can focus their available employees to ensure that these are continued. Additionally, where functions have been suspended, the BIA process highlights those that are most critical so they can be brought back online first. Crucially, the BIA process identifies which employee groups and what skillsets are essential to the delivery of critical functions. By doing this, it is possible to understand the impact a loss in personnel, across the business or in one specific area, may have on an organisation’s ability to deliver its critical functions and, equally, which employees must be brought back in to recover those functions.

The BIA process also puts a timescale on any downtime (that is, how long the business can survive without this function). This is essential in enabling effective planning around employee shortages. Many businesses will already have BIA and business continuity procedures in place. However, refreshing these is crucial in ensuring contingency strategies are up to date and take into account the new operating environment of the business.

The Ricardo 8-step business continuity process is an approach for conducting a BIA. Our crisis management experts will support you in the development of a BIA and as you look to plan your recovery.

The ripple effects

Recovery, as with response, is not entirely in the hands of the business. Ongoing school closures, mandated social distancing and the closure of other businesses upon which staff rely, all impact the ability of businesses to begin planning recovery.

If we consider the pasta supply chain as an example – for the majority of UK supplies, wheat from Canada is shipped to Italy where it is turned into pasta. It is then shipped to the UK, transported to distribution centres and then sent to individual supermarkets. Disruption at any point in that chain can impact the recovery of manufacturers, distributors and supermarkets.

Just as we are reliant on the relaxation of government control measures, we are also reliant on the recovery of our suppliers. This problem is exacerbated by the nature of today’s supply chains. Many are now ‘lean’, with just-in-time deliveries, which means organisations of all sizes are increasingly susceptible to even small disruptions in their supply chain because they do not have contingency stock.

As the world grows ever more interconnected, companies of all sizes are increasingly reliant on global supply chains. Consequently, businesses are highly vulnerable to pandemics. The complexity of global supply chains means that, when the UK enters the recovery phase, there is a reasonable chance that the pandemic will still be affecting a business’s supply chain because of ongoing restrictions in other countries. In addition, the potential of additional waves of this pandemic may further interrupt the production and transportation of goods, and the provision of services.

Understanding your supply chain, and identifying alternative suppliers and products that you can use are excellent ways of ensuring your business is prepared for and can recover from a pandemic. Thus, a robust supply chain assessment is an integral part of pandemic response planning.

The Ricardo 8-step process, which forms part of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) business preparedness toolkit, guides businesses through the BIA and supply chain assessment processes, and helps create a business continuity plan. In addition to this, organisations should consider a specific crisis management and pandemic response plan – templates for creating this are included as part of the COVID-19 business preparedness and recovery toolkit. A crisis management and pandemic response plan will outline command, control, coordination and communication arrangements, and provide clear structures and processes on how to deliver an efficient and effective recovery. During the response and recovery phases of a pandemic, these structures will be essential for coordinating activities, and enable the continuity and recovery of critical services.

What now?

  • BIA
    Now is the time to ensure your business has an up-to-date BIA with a clear understanding of your key products and services, and the processes that underpin them. This is essential for an ongoing response, but is also crucial for the recovery from an outbreak. The Ricardo COVID-19 business preparedness toolkit offers step-by-step guidance for this process.
  • Business continuity plan
    Building on the BIA, ensure that your organisation has a well-developed and up-to-date business continuity plan (BCP), which includes strategies for maintaining critical services and bringing others back online.
  • Supply chain assessment
    Undertake or update your supply chain assessment so that your organisation has a clear understanding of its supply chain and, where required, put contingency measures in place for key suppliers. Your assessment should include real-time information on the current status of suppliers and clearly convey the risks in terms of the geographic location of suppliers, and their vulnerability to first and any subsequent waves of a pandemic. Our COVID-19 business preparedness and recovery toolkit, and crisis management experts will support you in carrying out a robust supply chain assessment.
  • Crisis management and pandemic response plans
    Develop or update crisis management plans to ensure your organisation has command, control and coordination arrangements in place, and there are clear lines of escalation for issues potentially affecting the business’s core activities. Ensure a specific pandemic response plan is developed and put in action. This helps to ensure appropriate practices are adopted to mitigate the impacts of a pandemic and plan the businesses recovery from it.   

How Ricardo can help you

To provide support to organisations of all sizes, Ricardo’s business continuity specialists have developed an easy-to-use toolkit that can be used to create a BCP. The COVID-19 business preparedness and recovery toolkit provides:

  • The Ricardo 8-step process for creating a BIA and a BCP specifically for use during pandemics.
  • Pre-recorded presentations that take you through the Ricardo 8-step process to complete a pandemic BCP.
  • Phone support throughout the process.
  • A review of the draft and final BCP by one of our consultants.
  • The option to add more customised support as you work through your BCP and pandemic response plan.
  • The option to add a virtual exercise to test your final BCP.
  • The option to request bespoke consultancy services.

Ricardo’s crisis experts are also available to conduct crisis management and business continuity health checks. These will help you to measure your crisis readiness and, more importantly, identify and address gaps within it. For those having no plans or procedures in place, our specialists are available to work with you to develop bespoke business continuity and crisis solutions. Now is the time to review and enhance your preparedness.

If you have any concerns about how to go about preparing or updating a BIA, BCP, supply chain assessment or crisis management and pandemic response plans, please don’t hesitate to contact us on [email protected]. Alternatively, visit our crisis management pages.