Coronavirus: How solid is your business continuity and crisis management plan?

How concerned should you be about your business and employees in the face of the current Coronavirus epidemic? Whatever your level of risk, being aware of it, and having a business continuity and crisis management plan in place is essential – but how solid is yours?

On January 30, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of 2019-nCov or Coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

So far, there have been over 24,552 reported global cases* of this zoonotic epidemic that originated in Wuhan, China. While the majority of these are in China itself, the infection has now hopped across international borders with the number of cases in Australia currently standing at 13*.

Public health is the top priority at this point, but it’s not the only thing taking a hit. The economic impact of the outbreak – factories closing, people quarantined, borders blocked – is side-sweeping the global economy, undermining its already fragile growth. According to experts, it’s already set to outstrip SARS in terms of its negative impact.

At a micro-level, this puts businesses both big and small at risk. In light of this, the current advice for business owners is to review their business continuity and crisis management plans to ensure they are robust enough to survive the crisis, and what comes next.

Coronavirus & business continuity  

As Coronavirus continues to spread rapidly, the first thing you should be doing right now is asking yourself what your business situation is with China. You then need to identify the specific risks the outbreak presents to your business and plan to prevent and mitigate them.

For some businesses, the risks will be obvious. If you’re in the tourism industry, for example, the Government’s ban on Chinese visitors (non-Australian citizens) may impact your sales. This same goes for universities, which rely financially on a high number of Chinese students.

For other businesses, the closing of factories in China, where many of our products are manufactured, are already affecting supply chains and stock levels of everything from clothing to communications tech to toys.

For businesses that trade with China and regularly travel there, there are also risks – both to health and finances. Continuing to send employees to China or its bordering countries against the  Government’s advice could lead to sickness or being stuck in quarantine; not doing so could halt profits.

So, how can you minimise the risks and remain profitable under these conditions? Focus your marketing efforts elsewhere, look at the feasibility of sourcing goods, ingredients, or parts from alternative suppliers, secure your insurances – your survival could depend on plans such as these.

Coronavirus & crisis management

In addition to ensuring your business continuity plan is comprehensive enough to deal with these epidemic-induced risks, you should also take a look at your crisis management plan. Is it sufficient to deal with the current Coronavirus situation now or if it worsens?

Here are some of the questions you need to be asking: What determines when the issue has hit crisis level for my business? Am I keeping an eye on the latest government and agency updates and advice? How could the outbreak affect my building and employees?

Communication management is also critical. Do you have a designated crisis spokesperson within your company? Do you know how you will keep your staff, employees, and suppliers up to date and make sure they’re aware that you’re paying attention and on top of what’s going on?

While Coronavirus may not be a crisis for your business right now, a good crisis management plan will ensure you are prepared to step up in case the global crisis does become your crisis.

Continuous preparedness

Of course, the ideal time to be reviewing and updating your business continuity and crisis management plans is not in the face of a potential threat, such as what we are currently experiencing with Coronavirus.

The most future-proofed businesses are always prepared. They have solid plans that will help them through a crisis and beyond. They are also continually improving their processes, streamlining their operations, generating cash flow, and making projections – the basics of turnaround.

Instead of financially spiralling when threats occur, prepared businesses can navigate trouble and change, and do it quickly and effectively.

It’s not clear how long the Coronavirus epidemic will last or what the real impact on public health, the economy,  and businesses will be. But, by taking a proactive approach to business management, you can put yourself in the best possible position to survive this threat and any others that come.

Is your business already being affected by the Coronavirus fallout or in a position where you might struggle when it does? Contact us today to arrange a consultation.

*Correct as of 5 February, 2020.