COVID-19: Unprecedented crisis requires business continuity at scale and speed
Rapidly protecting people, clients and society. While the long-term outlook of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is still highly uncertain, businesses, individuals and families are nevertheless having to adapt to new, troubling challenges such as severe supply and demand disruption, social distancing and serious health implications.
Business continuity is crucial – staff must be protected and able to work effectively so they can contribute to the good of the economy and society. Thankfully, solutions exist that can be rapidly implemented at scale.
There are three phases to tackling crises such as COVID-19:
- Shock – Protect people, understand the situation, and ensure business continuity
- Endurance – Manage people and business activity through the crisis
- Recovery – Restart activities, assess the damage and rapidly recover
In this article, we explore phase one: how businesses can surmount a period of shock and uncertainty while protecting their people and ensuring the stability of both internal operations and those of their clients.
Leadership in firms needs to take rapid action to organize their activity, utilizing the following steps.
Enable remote workplaces to rapidly adapt at scale
As many staff as possible should be working remotely with all the necessary equipment and tools they need to do so efficiently. To ensure your business can continue and adapt to the changing crisis, you must quickly and extensively implement systems that replace the ways in which staff communicate and collaborate.
- Set up or expand the use of decentralized communication and collaboration platforms operated by staff, for staff. At BearingPoint, this has involved moving all appropriate teams and projects to our Microsoft Teams digital environment – on the first day, some 12,000 virtual meetings took place without issue.
- B2B businesses should invite struggling clients to view and use their digital platforms on a project-appropriate basis. We have found that this improves communication and can give clients the confidence and knowledge required to set up their own digital environments.
- While networks will need to be structured by a dedicated team, ongoing use requires vital decentralization – all staff must be trusted to self-organize their remote workspaces so they can be adapted quickly if required.
Support at scale
When unprepared, working remotely can hinder communication, impeding business continuity and everyday innovation. When management is overwhelmed by crisis management, the answer is peer-to-peer (P2P) support at scale, which can be rapidly implemented through decentralized digital workspaces. If support systems are not yet in place, they should be an urgent priority.
- Within your business’ digital environment, set up self-organized channels where all staff can quickly post requests for assistance and provide help. Through BearingPoint’s digital environment, almost 5,000 employees can now benefit from this approach.
- Make sure all employees have visibility over the channels and encourage them to respond to requests or notify colleagues that may be able to help.
- As well as creating mass support networks, we have developed a P2P support service to provide faster, more targeted assistance. The service, soon to be an app, matches consultants with specific queries to those that can help.
- Continue to develop innovative remote working solutions. We have activated an internal digital lab, (Y)Our Lab, to generate and develop ideas that will help our consultants. 1,200 of our staff have already volunteered to help.
- Guarantee the ongoing condition, development and fine tuning of systems with dedicated employees. At BearingPoint, we have a digital support team that is working quickly to identify and solve issues at scale, creating and launching solutions in just 24 hours that typically take weeks or even months to produce.
This approach activates the collective intelligence of your organization, giving staff the means to help one another in a self-organized, efficient way.
Support clients and partners at speed
The multifaceted nature of the COVID-19 crisis is proving overwhelming for many businesses, threatening their continuity. The answer is working closely and intelligently with your clients, partners and providers.
- Check clients are safe and that they can continue working. Assist where possible.
- Regularly communicate to identify problem areas to focus on – this may go beyond current areas of collaboration.
- Organize daily sprints to help deliver their most critical work.
At BearingPoint, this approach has helped support overloaded client crisis teams. With a new, seven-day service we are managing business areas including communications and digital channel implementation. For one client, BearingPoint is receiving and analyzing all internal requests, thus freeing up the client’s time for more critical work.
By helping your ecosystem of suppliers and clients, you can ensure your partners continue to operate effectively, protecting your business in kind.
The COVID-19 crisis is concerning and disruptive, but the way we act now will make a clear difference to the future – the ongoing management of the crisis and eventual recovery. Support your people, trust them to take care of themselves, and they will take care of one another and their clients – this way, change can be rapidly and broadly implemented.
Stay tuned for the second article of this series, detailing measures and learnings from our initial experiences during phase two of the crisis: endurance.
For information on how your business can quickly and effectively adapt to COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to contact our team today.