Practical Info to Manage the COVID-19 Crisis

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Following on from Monday's article looking at Business Continuity & Managing COVID-19, this article looks at some key considerations to address when looking at your immediate business response to this global pandemic.


We're all in this together

As the Government's recent $12.1 billion injection into the New Zealand economy showed, we're well beyond wondering if COVID-19 will have an impact on business in New Zealand. The pertinent questions now are, just how big will the impact be and are you prepared for it? At both a governance and management level you really need to be addressing these questions now.


Breathe, focus, then take action

Monday's article raised seven practical actions you need to take immediately. If you missed it, you can read it here

Being in business has inherent risks and you can never remove them all. You do however have a responsibility, to yourself and your employees, to consider risks and look at ways to mitigate them.  

Below are five steps you can take with your team when looking at your business continuity in response to COVID-19. Also included are some practical considerations.


Five steps for business continuity

Click any of the steps below to jump to that section:

  1. Identify your immediate business risks.
  2. Decide which risks need addressing immediately.
  3. Consider your options.
  4. Form a plan of attack.
  5. Thinking about 'business as usual' in the future.


1. Identify your immediate business risks.

These risks will be both internal and external. Some you'll be able to manage, but others will be completely out of your control and all that you'll be able to manage is your response. Here are some examples:


Internal Risks


  • Questions about staff:
    • What happens if people don’t turn up?
    • What happens if people turn up sick?
    • What roles in your business are ‘mission critical’?
    • Who can deliver your key product or service if staffing levels reduce?
    • Who are the people that retain key information or knowledge about your business and what happens if they're not at work?
    • Who can do payroll, invoicing and cash management?
    • Who can work remotely?
    • Can you get temporary staff or contractors, who are they, and how do you engage with them?
    • What happens if remaining staff become over fatigued?


  • Inability to deliver key services or products:
    • Either because you don’t have enough people or resources to deliver minimum requirements, or capacity demand is too much for you.


  • Your IT capabilities won’t support remote work because:
    • People don’t have the right equipment at home.
    • Your software is limited for remote access.


  • Cash runs out:
    • And you can't meet your business obligations.


  • Customers can't receive your product or services because:
    • You don’t have the staff required.
    • They think your service offering is impacted and unavailable.


  • Equipment: can only be operated by key people.


External Risks


  • Customers are unable to visit you.


  • Supply chain is impacted because:
    • You're unable to get products and goods from existing suppliers.
    • There are restrictions on freight, both inward and outward.
    • There are restrictions on warehousing.


  • Utilities become unavailable and:
    • There are issues around essential services like power and water.
    • Your IT provider is unavailable.
    • Banks have limited services if you need to manually bank cash.


  • Hygiene products become unavailable.


  • Contractors are sick or unavailable.


  • Decisions are made by Government that impact on your business.


The above lists can go on, and on depending on your business. The key is to stop and identify what the risks are before taking action


2. Decide which risks need addressing immediately.

As you can see from the above, the number of risks can be many. But you can scale your risks by looking at:

  • The likelihood that the risk will occur.
  • The impact the risk will have on your business.
  • The velocity of the impact on your business.

Alternatively, you can use good old common sense, discuss the risks with your team, work out which ones are likely to cause the most issues, and start to look at your options.  

The key takeaway at this stage is that you should be having these conversations now, even if you don’t think the risks are immediate. As we’re seeing with COVID-19, things are moving and changing rapidly.


3. Don't jump to solutions, consider your options first

Sometimes it’s easy to jump to solutions but taking the time and looking at the various options available to you, and more importantly discussing these with people across your organisation, will undoubtedly help.

As you look at the various options, don’t just look at things from a management level, bring in any staff that may be affected and seek advice from them. Also, consider external advice and look at things from your customers' perspectives.


4. Think, make decisions, then form a plan of attack.

So, you've thought things through and made some decisions about what actions you need to take. The next stage is to get things underway and communicate what you're doing.

Identify and document, and keep it simple, by focusing on:

  • What the risks are.
  • How the actions will happen.
  • What the results will likely be.
  • What controls you can put in place now.
  • Who is going to manage the risk.
  • Timelines for controls.
  • Reporting back.

In the current business environment communication is critical both internally and externally.  

Internally, let all staff know what's going on. Keep the feedback loop going and keep assuring people about what you're doing and what's happening.

Externally, keep customers, suppliers, and service providers in the loop as much as you can or as much as you need to.


5. Thinking about 'business as usual' in the future.

Things will return to normal at some point, although that normal may not be the same as it was a month ago, or six months ago, or at any other time in the past. And, recovery may take time with some pundits predicting it will take the remainder of this year, while others say COVID-19 effects will run well into 2021.

So once you get through your immediate challenges, start having discussions with your staff about what will happen when normal service does resume with questions such as:

  • Will your way of doing business need to change?
  • Will you have sufficient resources?
  • Will you need to increase your market profile?
  • What do you need to do to get back to full operation?
  • Will you have sufficient cash?


Stay calm and know: we will get through this

Business continuity for most has been a theoretical exercise until now, unless they were impacted by the Christchurch or Kaikōura earthquakes. So now is the time to take a moment, look at the risks, consider what you’ll do and keep the lines of communication open. Kia kaha New Zealand!


More information on COVID-19 and doing business in New Zealand

In the coming days, weeks and months, we'll keep you updated with regards to COVID-19 and doing business in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, if you have any queries please don't hesitate to contact Hutch on 021 748 142


Official sources of further COVID-19 information