6 minute read 8 Apr 2020
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Enterprise resiliency: nine areas of focus for COVID-19 crisis management

6 minute read 8 Apr 2020

Introducing an easy-to-use diagnostic tool to help provide a comprehensive, methodical approach to crisis management.

The global spread of COVID-19 is a humanitarian crisis, first and foremost. But it’s added yet another layer of disruption to the growing list of unexpected challenges facing leaders and impacting business performance.

Fundamentally, the pandemic is a test of your company’s resilience. Responding requires a structured approach to crisis management, headed by a team coordinating everything from internal and external communication to risk assessment, management and mitigation. The problem? It’s tough to be methodical when everything is changing by the day.

That’s why it’s crucial to have a map for navigating uncertainty and complexity. We’ve identified nine areas enterprises can address to assist business continuity now, build resilience for what’s next, and help reframe your future for what comes beyond the pandemic. When considering these issues, we recommend you always start with the people-related issues before you move onto other areas, which can be addressed in any order:

  1. Employee health and well-being
  2. Talent and workforce
  3. Supply chain and global trade
  4. Customer and brand
  5. Financial and investor
  6. Risk
  7. Government and public policy
  8. Technology and information security
  9. Insurance and legal disputes

COVID-19 Enterprise Resilience Tool

The purpose of the tool is to help business leaders assess these nine areas. It prompts you to consider aspects which might otherwise be overlooked. It also helps provide structure in the midst of chaos. The idea is not to use it once but keep rechecking your preparedness as part of your ongoing leadership crisis meetings.

The tool is an easy, straightforward and pragmatic way to understand how resilient your business is in the face of crisis. It enables you, at a glance, to identify where you need further efforts or assistance. 

To access the tool, please contact your EY account team or your local EY Office

The tool is an easy, straightforward and pragmatic way to understand how resilient your business is in the face of crisis. The idea is not to use it once but keep rechecking your preparedness as part of your ongoing leadership crisis meetings.

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1. Employee health and well-being

Employee safety is paramount. But today that means many are working remotely, struggling to juggle personal commitments while maintaining a regular work schedule, taking breaks, and remaining engaged, motivated, and connected to their broader work community. So, how should you lead from a distance? And how are you going to ensure people are available to work? Do you need to tap into a contingent or alternative workforce such as students, or retrain your people?

See our checklist for actions now, next and beyond

2. Talent and workforce

What will be the impact on your operations if a percentage of workers fall ill? What’s the impact of travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines? Have you prioritized areas of the business where hiring might become critical and considered recruiting temporary workers? Do you redeploy overcapacity to other areas in need?

See our checklist for actions now, next and beyond

3. Supply chain and global trade

It’s not only factory closings but also regulatory changes that are making supply chains increasingly problematic. What do you do when trucks can’t cross borders and air freight is limited? Organizations need to address the now for continuity (survive), the next to build resilience (thrive) and the beyond to reframe for the future (transform) by stress testing their supply chains. For example, do you have visibility into your key suppliers’ ability to continue to deliver?

See our checklist for actions now, next and beyond

4. Customer and brand

How is your brand perceived right now? Are you seen as empathetic? Part of the solution? Some companies are offering their services at a discount or for free, balancing the need for commercial continuity with community concern. Maybe you need to switch to new ways of selling (such as online) or to new routes to market (such as wholesalers selling direct to consumers)? Agility is critical, all the while staying close to your customers, their well-being, and how their behaviour is shifting in line with their needs.

See our checklist for actions now, next and beyond

5. Financial and investor

Financial management is critical – organizations face huge liquidity issues in the short term. You need to first understand cash flow and revenue projections, then look at cost containment or cost-cutting activities. Short-term financing is critical – you need to keep track of all local, national and international government stimulus schemes that may prove helpful. Yet they could be complex to access, especially for multinationals performing this work simultaneously across territories.

See our checklist for actions now, next and beyond

6. Risk

Considerations here range from the impact of labor constraints and shortages on services and customers to the impact on working capital of supply-chain disruption. And that’s even before considering technology issues such as potential upheaval from infrastructure changes, including new workforce locations. And how will you respond to dynamic and unpredictable swings in consumer demand?

See our checklist for actions now, next and beyond

7. Government and public policy

New and emergency legislation is being enacted around the globe every week, bringing with it new compliance expectations and potential business impact. Identify an individual or team to monitor the spread and progress of COVID-19 across geographies relevant to the organization, as well as government and IGO responses. You also need designated points of contact to deal with governments and the press in relation to COVID-19 responses. And those shifting compliance requirements? Establish dashboard monitoring to identify them.

See our checklist for actions now, next and beyond

New and emergency legislation is being enacted around the globe every week, bringing with it new compliance expectations and potential business impact.

8. Technology and information security

While most organizations are now set up for remote working, that may bring an increased risk of scams and cyberattacks attempting to exploit less-secure connections. There should be a strong focus on setting up and protecting the infrastructure – security, bandwidth, access permissions, peripherals and hardware. Organizations should also review their mechanisms for reporting incidents of technology risk, outages or loss of access for employees and client stakeholders.

See our checklist for actions now, next and beyond

9. Insurance and legal disputes

Carefully review your insurance policies in the light of potential pandemic outcomes. Develop plans now to expedite financial recovery and mitigation after catastrophic loss through insurance claims or other disaster/pandemic grant programs. In legal disputes, force majeure may be invoked – do you have this caveat in your contracts or insurance? And what are your contractual obligations with customers and suppliers?

See our checklist for actions now, next and beyond

Develop plans now to expedite financial recovery and mitigation after catastrophic loss through insurance claims or other disaster/pandemic grant programs.

Building resilience for the future

Strengthening and sustaining enterprise resilience requires a structured and comprehensive approach to assessing and addressing the issues impacting the business in a time of crisis. But leaders can’t just tick the box and carry on – effective crisis management means revisiting and rechecking every few days, and recalibrating decisions and activities, including scenario planning for worsening developments. That’s the imperative “now”– surviving through business continuity.

The next step is to thrive and transform. We’re at the beginning of a new, very different era. Great leaders will ensure their organization is prepared for whatever comes “next” and “beyond,” after this pivotal moment. In short, they’ll oversee the transformation into a resilient enterprise helping build a better working world, no matter what the new normal looks like.

Summary

Responding to a crisis requires a structured approach but it’s tough to be methodical when everything is changing by the day. That's why we’ve identified nine areas enterprises can address to assist business continuity now, build resilience for what’s next, and help reframe your future for what comes beyond the pandemic. We've also developed an easy, straightforward and pragmatic tool to help you identify where you need further efforts or assistance.

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