Few people outside of epidemiologists and science fiction writers would have predicted the state of the world just a few months into the global outbreak of COVID-19. With heads spinning, business leaders everywhere are working to find the best path forward for their clients, employees, external workforce, and communities. One important tool for businesses at this astonishing time of health, economic, and social disruption is their business continuity plan (BCP).
A Solid Plan Endures
It’s unlikely that the COVID-19 pandemic, especially its brutal worldwide scale, was one of the potential predicaments planned for in a business’ BCP, such as a fire, cyber attack, natural disaster, or power outage. But that doesn’t matter. At its core, a strong BCP is a pragmatic tool for managing unexpected business disruptions with carefulness, strategic thinking, and precision. Even in this unbelievable moment we could not conceive of, there are important strategies and lessons a business can take from its BCP.
BCP Best Practices to Consider
In light of the pandemic, Autumn Vaupel, Beeline’s COO, was a panelist on a Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) webinar last week focused on business continuity best practices. With fellow panelist Chris Paden, SIA’s director of contingent workforce strategies and research, Autumn took the audience through the key components of a solid BCP and how people (and specifically the external workforce) should be considered and communicated with in times of serious disruption, including today. Remember a BCP cannot predict every situation and have all of the answers, but it will give clarity as to who the decision makers are, what committees will be formed, and how they will communicate changes to the business in real time. Below is a summary of the five BCP lessons covered during the webinar. The entire webinar, which expands on these themes, can be viewed here.
Five Business Continuity Lessons for Today and Tomorrow
1) Include ALL Talent in the Plan – Don’t Forget Your Contingent Workers
Many businesses overlook their external workforce in their BCPs, and it’s a mistake. Plenty of mission-critical work is performed by contingent talent today and that means considering how they will move forward with the business in the wake of a crisis. How will contingent talent be equipped and informed in order to support the business remotely or in another facility?
One essential key to successfully incorporating the contingent workforce into business continuity strategies is ensuring that contact data on contingent talent is up to date. If contact information is incomplete or inaccurate, how can all workers be reached and provided instructions and support? For many businesses, this will mean reaching out to staffing firm partners to examine how this information is gathered and updated, or considering how to most efficiently capture and maintain accurate and current contingent talent data among VMS, ATS, and ERP systems.
2) Know the Whereabouts of Mission-Critical Systems
Your mission-critical systems are the technology systems that, if they fail, will adversely affect your customers, employees, and external workforce. In the age of SaaS and the cloud, few businesses house their own mission-critical systems. Instead, providers host those systems at faraway datacenters. Good business continuity planning means understanding exactly where the systems are located and reaching out to providers to find out what backup and redundancy plans they have in place to ensure they stay up and running.
3) Enable Relocated Work
Whether it’s a fire, natural disaster, or virus, most catastrophic business disruptions displace workers and change how they do their jobs. Business continuity planning also means putting into place technology and collaboration and communication tools that allow your organization to function and people to do their jobs despite changing facilities/locations or having to work from home.
4) Make Essential Knowledge Accessible, Key Processes Possible
Consider how important business knowledge and processes will live on in a reconfigured business environment. Take, for example, the onboarding process right now. Despite today’s economic havoc, many businesses in healthcare, food service, and technology continue to hire. However, physical distancing requirements have upended traditional training and onboarding processes. A comprehensive BCP must consider how key knowledge like company operating, communication, and employment practices can be shared and how important processes, like training and onboarding, can continue.
5) Broaden Crisis Communication Capabilities
The value of sharing and getting useful information during a crisis cannot be underestimated. People need facts they can trust and direction they can follow. In addition to planning for remote and at-home work possibilities, businesses should have a system in place for broad communication both internally (to all workers) and externally (to clients, partners, and the community).
What tools will be used to ensure that everyone knows what is happening, who to report to, and how to get and share the latest information? Many large businesses will need to consider activating mass communication tools that leverage multiple communication mediums (phone calls, text, emails, etc.) to ensure information reaches the right people in timely and effective ways.
Get Stable, Get Moving
In the end, the job of the BCP is to stabilize the business and get it moving again.
At Beeline, we’re working hard to support our customers and partners through the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact us if you have any questions about how to maximize the use of your VMS while enacting your BCP. With over 20 years of experience, Beeline can help you solve for the unique talent acquisition needs that have arisen from this current global crisis, today as well as tomorrow. Business will rebound and you should feel confident that your technology partner has the experience and knowledge to assist you as you navigate that recovery and you finally get to put your BCP back on the shelf.