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Coronavirus: Practical Considerations for Business Resilience

2020-03-10


As the coronavirus outbreak unfolds in Canada and abroad, concerns around disruptions and the impact on businesses are understandably increasing. At this time, it’s prudent to take a realistic view of where your business stands. The risks in Canada remain low — however, it is important to be prepared. There are still many unknowns, information is changing daily and the situation must be taken seriously.

To help secure your business and your staff, here are three key actions to focus on and guidelines on how to achieve them:

  • Monitor the situation and continually assess potential impacts to you and your business.
  • Protect yourself and your people.
  • Protect your business and complete contingency planning.
1. Monitor the Situation

Review local, provincial, national and World Health Organization information sources daily, if possible. Ensure your sources of information are sound, such as the following:

2. Protect Yourself and Your People

Reduce your and your people’s potential virus exposure by encouraging good hygiene and, as recommended by health authorities, avoiding high-risk environments (see Coronavirus: Safeguarding Your Organization and Yourself).

People/Staffing: Develop plans and actions to ensure you have enough people on staff and are able to manage potential human resources (HR) issues. Key considerations are as follows:

  • Review your critical business functions to determine what is essential, what can be paused and how you will staff all the roles you need if there is a staffing shortage.
  • Determine which business functions can be performed remotely / from home, if staff have the required IT equipment and whether your IT infrastructure can support a much higher than normal volume of employees accessing systems remotely.
  • Review current HR policies and assess their applicability to identified potential scenarios.
  • Communicate regularly with staff and, if necessary, unions.
3. Protect Your Business: Begin planning now (if you have not already started) with a basic approach. Access existing business continuity plans, business impact analysis and general crisis management process if they exist.

If you do not have a business continuity plan in place, follow the three points listed below and the tips following.  

  • Form a pandemic planning team / committee with representation from across the business (operations, HR etc.).
  • Set a regular meeting schedule and response cycle to review and assess situation.
  • Monitor the situation and adjust operations as required.

PLANNING TIPS AND CONSIDERATIONS 

Business Scenario Planning: Conduct basic, what-if scenario planning and develop strategies and actions. For example, consider potential interruptions to your business where you have dependencies on key partners and understand their response plan and any potential impact to your business. This may include everything from supply chain relationships to outsourcing of key business functions. 

Other considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • Employees who are ill or are quarantined.
  • Employees who are not ill but need to care for others.
  • Employees who refuse to work based on fear of unsafe work environments.
  • Supply chain disruptions — challenges receiving materials based on origin of supplies.
  • Supply chain disruption — challenges shipping products and cross-border issues.
  • Impact on demand for your products — sudden drop in sales.
  • Potential financial impacts — reduced or interrupted sales and / or delays in customer payments, etc.

Insurance: Evaluate how your operations are impacted by the coronavirus crisis and consider whether existing insurance policies potentially provide coverage for losses. Consult with your insurance broker and business advisor to review your coverage.

For more information, contact:

Mariesa Carbone CPA, CA, ABCP, CRMA
National Leader, Enterprise Risk Services
780.451.4406
[email protected]

Cliff Trollope CPA, CA, ABCP, CRMA
National Leader, Business Resilience Services
416.596.1711
[email protected]