Business continuity management plans in times of crisis

31 March 2020 Consultancy.com.au

As businesses come to terms with new “work from home” arrangements, Wayne Middleton, a Principal at Australian risk management consulting firm Reliance Risk, highlights that most businesses ought to already have a contingency plan in place.

Middleton explains that while the Covid-19 crisis and its plethora of repercussions are unprecedented, mandated “work from home” policies are the likely first outcome of a variety of phenomena, and should therefore already be in place for most businesses that have Business Continuity Management (BCM) plans in place.

“Denial of Access, or being unable to work from your office, is one of the most common scenarios that require a continuity response in business. Whether it’s an act of terror, a power failure, a failed sewer main in a neighbouring building, a motor vehicle accident on an arterial road nearby, or the Coronavirus; denial of access should be the starting point for disruption scenarios in your BCM plan,” writes Middleton, in a feature on Asian Leisure Business.

For businesses that don’t have a business continuity management plan in place, Middleton recommends that they make careful note of the steps that they take in response to the current crisis, and incorporate the learnings from these steps in a newly developed BCM.

Business continuity management plans in times of crisis

“At this point you are hopefully dragging out your well-rehearsed Business Continuity Management Plan and putting into place the contingency plans you have trained for. But if you haven’t tested them for some time, or worse still – you don’t have a BCM plan, now is a very good opportunity to document these processes while implementing home-based work,” he said.

One for the silver lining, Middleton highlights how this is one of the few opportunities that have emerged for businesses out of the worldwide Covid-19 crisis, amid widespread economic disruption. He goes on to describe how the crisis is going to be a test of resilience for many organisations, which calls for the implementation of resilience-based risk strategies. In light of the current crisis, risk assessment criteria ideally include: health & safety, disruption, reputation, finance, legal and tech.

“The assessment should exist in a risk register (table of risks) and use agreed definitions for consequence and likelihood, and contain evaluation criteria to determine the magnitude of the problem and an appropriate course of action,” explains Middleton.

Middleton’s New South Wales based firm Reliance Risk specialises in risk management for events and venues, among other business domains, operating on the principle that risk management extends beyond simple compliance to include a culture of good decision-making processes.

In Australia, economic disruption from Covid-19 could potentially amount to a $17 billion cut in the GDP by the end of this year, according to Big Four accounting and advisory firm KPMG. Having now incorporated “work from home” policies, the business environment in Australia is likely looking to minimise disruption


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