COVID-19: What businesses must do to mitigate crisis

KPMG has revealed six factors that businesses should consider in order to mitigate the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria. According to a report by the financial services firm, the factors include ensuring the following:

  • Business Continuity/Information Technology
  • Marketing/Communications
  • Security
  • Pandemic Planning
  • Finance and
  • Proper Human Resources.

Business Continuity/Information Technology

KPMG explained that it is an important continuity to be sustained in business, especially in the private sector, as it is not proper for the economy to be shut. A major barrier to this could be critical processes that may not be concluded if movements are restricted.
But as far as analysts at KPMG are concerned, confirmed critical processes can be performed remotely or an alternative can be identified if necessary Information Technology tools are adopted.

For instance, it explained that it is important for all businesses to validate essential tools to work remotely. Some of the tools are Laptop computer, video conferencing tools, and the Internet, among others.

Other areas that must be touched are increased network bandwidth due to increased telecommuting, remote security access capabilities, establish a Help Line to assist employees that are not familiar with telecommuting or test thoroughly in anticipation of a pandemic.

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Analysts added that it is also important to review the organisation’s Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis to confirm the critical business sites, processes, products, services, and a prioritised list of customers that will be the focus of continued operations during a pandemic event.

“Sign-off that the Pandemic Plan has been reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors or Committee annually. Review the potential impacts on operations, customer service, SLAs and ensure a continuous supply of power and diesel for generators powering critical IT infrastructure,” it stated.

Marketing/Communications

KPMG explained that developing and adopting the right communication vehicles and frequency targeting is another factor that must not be overlooked. It tasked owners of businesses to develop a communication plan to facilitate consistent internal and external communications. While internal communications would be designed for the staff and employees of the organization, the external plan would be filled with information meant for either their customers/consumers, clients or the general public.

It stated, “Determine the appropriate level of communication consistent with an organisation’s protocol to keep employees informed without introducing unnecessary stress. Determine an appropriate level of communication with clients.”

Security/Facility/Health & Safety

The safety and security of employees should not be left in the care of the staff alone, as companies are expected to lead by example and ensure basic safety, security measures/tools are provided by the employers.

Analysts guide and tasked the direct leadership of firms to follow guidelines published by leading global authorities like the World Health Organisation. Signs and posts should be at strategic locations within and outside the business premises.

It added that hand sanitizers should be provided and ensuring appropriate distribution of devices near restrooms, kitchens, common areas should be encouraged and the cleaning of the facility should be increased.

Pandemic Planning/Preparedness Team

“Closely monitor outbreaks and announcements as reported by WHO, and local health and emergency management agencies. Debrief and discuss any lessons learnt, assign any outstanding issues and report on the status of such issues until resolution. Open limited service locations with limited services, if applicable, Businesses that operated virtually now could migrate to 100% virtual operations after the crisis, if needed,” the analysts added.

Finance

Analysts at KPMG expect entrepreneurs to review cash flow and revise expenditures as necessary to avoid being cash trapped. They explained that it is important for firms to work with the supply chain for inventory forecasts and predicts supply and demand.

The report said, “Assess financial stability and identify variables that will impact revenue and cost. Define scenarios that address global slowdowns and model cash flows. Include trigger-based moves in each scenario to stabilise organisations.”

Human Resources

Post-crisis plan is as important as the crisis plan and it is important for every business and individual to necessary attention.

“Issue guidelines provided by the public health sector, communicate with personnel to return to the worksite, once they are healthy and/or no longer caring for an ill family member and after any quarantine periods,” it added.

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