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A business continuity guide for SMEs in a post COVID – 19 world

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Vimal Pillai, Assistant Vice President-Marketing and Digital, Clover Infotech

The Coronavirus pandemic outbreak is impacting businesses all over the world. Whether it is a multi-national conglomerate, or medium and small enterprises, businesses across the globe are facing the stalling of their operations. To survive such times, especially for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), it is imperative to adapt to the new normal.

It is understandable for SMEs to feel overwhelmed by the economic crises arising out of the pandemic. However, the key is to focus on things that can be controlled and done differently to create a unique value proposition. Preparedness is a critical factor that will keep SMEs afloat in such uncertain time, hence it is very important to have a resilient business continuity plan.

The following steps would help SMEs to formulate a robust business continuity plan that will not only ensure survival of their business but also enable them to surpass the competition.

1.      Assess the current business landscape – There are two critical questions that needs to be answered before formulating a business continuity plan.

·         Why the company needs a business continuity plan

·         Which processes will be covered by the continuity plan

The answers to the above questions will help SMEs to prepare the framework of the continuity plan and provide them with a perspective, which will drive the management and team members towards success. Strong leadership is an essential factor in a business continuity plan. A successful business continuity plan requires participation from across the organization.

2.      Start with the essentials – The most fundamental step in building a resilient business continuity plan for SMEs is to focus on essentials. Since SMEs have limited resources, they should look at mitigating risks that pose immediate threats to their essential resources so that even in dire situations they are able to continue operations at an acceptable level of functionality.

3.      Identify risks mitigation mechanism – It is vital for SMEs to identify risks that pose grave dangers to the survival of their business. Before focusing on the risks in individual areas of the business, they must determine what would constitute a disaster. It is critical that SMEs understand the disruptions that would be disastrous to the running of their business while designing the business continuity plan. They must invest time in jotting down all the risks that their businesses face and then rank them in order of likelihood and importance. This is the most important step of the plan as it exposes the greatest risks that businesses face.

4.      Test the plan – Once the business continuity plan has been formulated, agreed upon and endorsed by management, it must be communicated to all teams. This could be done by organizing formal walkthrough sessions wherein all members are invited to share their opinion and feedback. This will test the feasibility of the plan, and also expose any flaws. It will also ensure that key roles and responsibilities are clearly stated and understood.

5.      Regularly update the plan – Designing a business continuity plan cannot be treated as a onetime exercise. It needs to be reviewed periodically for its relevance. It should be monitored regularly to ensure that all emergency contact details are up-to-date and correct. Similarly, it should be checked to ensure all changes in the organizational structure or team functions are duly noted and updated.

Lastly, there isn’t any uncertainty about this being a challenging time for SMEs, however with preparedness, pragmatism and a resilient business continuity plan they can not only navigate the perils but also prevail.

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