“From corporates to SMEs, any organisation without a business continuity plan (BCP) that can be implemented with speed is a sitting duck.”
So says ProfitShare Partners CEO Andrew Maren, a business leader with experience in banking, Fintech, start-ups and serial entrepreneurship, adding that adapting your BCP to the environment and business you’re in is vital.
“A quick glance at the news will show the world is facing unprecedented issues that are happening at the same time, to one degree or another, in every country. At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in January 2023, in Davos, Switzerland, these multiple and overlapping crises were given the name ‘polycrises’, from the word Collins Dictionary word of the year 2022,” Maren says.
The year 2023 was named “the year of the polycrisis” by certain attendees at Davos. However, says Maren, it should not create despondency so much as a desire to get through it as unscathed as possible. “First, have a business continuity plan.”
Here are some tips for your Business Continuity Plan (BCP)
- Power generation: With up to 11 or more hours of loadshedding a day at the moment, South African businesses – especially SMEs – must create workarounds to keep running no matter what.
- Get a robust source of power such as a generator or invertor to keep your manufacturing and admin/sales departments running. When power returns, charge batteries and ensure you have fuel for the next outage.
- Make sure your security system is able to run on batteries; and have battery-powered light sources throughout your workspace.
- If you operate from a business park, see if one or more of the businesses closest to you will share power generation and costs with yours.
- Put the power-out alerts of your suppliers and clients on your phone so you’re aware when supplies may be late or they’re unable to respond to e-mail queries.
- Prepare for the worst and alert clients and suppliers of any upcoming issues your area or theirs may expect; set up WhatsApp groups with these businesses for emergency communications.
- Senior staff members: Every company should have a list of their senior staff members’ contact details and responsibilities. In this case, should the banking signatory not be available on payday, your accounts department knows who is able to sign on their behalf.
Also, make sure at least two people have access to information about all staff members, that includes:
- Their next of kin or family contact details
- Their residential addresses
Note that this information should be stored safely and in keeping with Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA). While it’s likely you have the info on your system, have a copy on paper in the company safe.
- Work from home: Make a list of staff members who can work from home, where their residential area may have loadshedding at a different time from your business facility. Ensure that:
- Their mobile devices have anti-virus software running 24-7
- They have been trained in basic cybersecurity, especially phishing, which is a key entry to your business, often via an unsuspecting employee
- They understand the value of your company’s information and agree, legally, to having their devices checked by your IT department for potential threats
- Have a tech expert available to make house calls for those working from home
“These are just some of the key issues,” says Maren. “Sit down with another senior staff member and list every possible way you can keep your business running effectively in any eventuality.”
Remember that while countries around the world are going through similar issues, South Africa is fairly unique in our power issues. “Try to keep your staff motivated and not put them under undue pressure,” Maren suggests.
“Everyone may be in the same storm but we are not all in the same boat. A little extra consideration and kindness will help keep morale up and, where it’s flagging, a company treat like pizzas delivered for lunch or closing up an hour early can put a spring back in the step.
“A polycrisis is precisely when real leaders show what they’re made of,” he concludes.