Implementing a business continuity plan in times of crisis

Forrester Research analysts discuss what we initially knew about the COVID-19 pandemic, how it's transforming business and how to devise a business continuity plan.

Forrester Research analysts Stephanie Balaouras, James McQuivey and Andrew Bartels talk about the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and how companies need to implement a viable business continuity plan.  This three-part panel discussion covers an employee experience survey about COVID-19 and businesses, the need for companies to dust off and update their continuity plans and the effects of a pandemic on continuity planning

Podcast highlights

Do businesses need to be communicating with their employees during a crisis?

Stephanie Balaouras: We always ask this question, which is, 'What is the biggest lesson learned from one of your prior invocations?' And this is across all types of scenarios, IT outages, extreme weather. And one of the biggest lessons is that there hadn't been enough communication throughout the event. And I think that's one of the cases here, which is, companies sometimes err on caution of not communicating a lot because we're worried about inciting panic. They don't exactly know what to communicate.

You actually need to communicate before, during and after, and you can't over-communicate in this scenario. I think people need a lot of, like you said, like confidence and reassurance, because travel restrictions and other policies will change frequently. You need to continuously communicate that.

What should businesses have been doing to prepare for the pandemic now and for future incidents?

Balaouras: Step one was putting that executive response team together with those individuals that I mentioned, and that team should meet daily, not just like, once, write the plan. They should meet daily because you're gonna continuously update the plan and those policies, and that team should have virtual capabilities itself. … Step number two is just doing a business impact analysis again, [a] company should have one.

But back to our earlier point, when was the last time they refreshed it? … The third step after you know [when it was refreshed], you pull the response team together, you do a rapid business impact analysis to get that contextual information that you need. Now you can actually write down the plan. So, the key things you need is the communication strategy.

Where might we see budgets affected during the pandemic?

Andrew Bartels: I think that we'll see the impact primarily in three major areas that any CIO looks to cut costs when faced with a need to do so. First of all, computer equipment, communications equipment. In addition, having supply chain disruptions will also face increased demand, though we can wait on upgrading those PCs, we can delay upgrading those servers, we can delay that.

The second area is going to be on tech consulting services. As firms turn more cautious about the business outlook in this environment, they're likely to put on the shelf a lot of new projects. New projects would normally require tech consulting, services. Those projects may likely be late, possibly canceled. And a third area, which is probably relatively small today, is unlicensed software.

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