It’s primarily a human tragedy that affects businesses and governments alike, bringing forth unprecedented implications, risks, and disruptions.

With the proliferation of coronavirus in the USA, Europe and Asia, businesses are forced to act decisively, and we understand that there are no easy solutions. Most companies don’t have relevant experience, the course of the disease is unpredictable, and there are no clear instructions or recommendations from government or international authorities.

Needless to say that the high-priority task is to contain the spread of the virus itself. However, it’s up to business leaders to ensure employees’ security, work out effective crisis management strategies, communicate with all the stakeholders, and thus lead their companies through dark times.

Though it’s too soon to fully realize the gravity of the crisis and its long-term consequences, we’ve defined several steps that companies can take now to lessen the coronavirus impact on the economy and prepare for recovery.

Coronavirus in the US, Europe and Asia: Business Continuity Plan Checklist

We’ve all received instructions from the government and health organizations saying that we must wash hands, stay at home, keep a distance and avoid unnecessary risks.

The contingency planning process requires time that most of us don’t have. Our teams are working remotely, and most countries are under quarantine restrictions. Meantime, business leaders are obliged to keep things on an even keel, retain customers, protect jobs and simply survive through this crisis. But where should we start to efficiently address these challenges? — Here is a crisis management and business recovery plan:

#1 Create a focused crisis response team

The coronavirus crisis will have an impact on every area of your business and to encourage quick problem solving, as well as enforcement under high pressure, business leaders should create crisis management teams or so-called team networks.

The latter should comprise representatives from both internal and customer-facing departments to cover four major fields: financial robustness testing, stabilization of the value chain, client engagement and workforce protection.

Crisis management resources should define short-term goals and adjust them regularly depending on the situation; all while following and contributing to the company’s approved planning scenario.

#2 Reimagine the strategy for business continuity and disaster recovery

Businesses should prepare themselves for notable disruption of their streamlined operations and business fading throughout the coronavirus crisis. You may be already witnessing shifts in customer behavior and demand that, in turn, affect manufacturing, automotive, retail, life science, and other sectors.

Start with business recovery plan with assessing your short-term liquidity to be able to predict cash deficiency and address it immediately. Otherwise, companies that are long in reacting or fail to adapt to new terms and conditions may be prone to financial stress with long-range consequences.

Additionally, for businesses that are highly dependent on third-party supplies, like pharmaceutical, health care, retail or automotive industries, it’s a good practice to look for backup options to stabilize the supply chain and prevent idleness.

To remain agile, management teams should review, revise and adjust business plans, cash flow and budget estimates regularly. You can analyze several scenarios and stress-test your financial plans to realize the likely impact on your financial metrics. Further renegotiation of operating costs and curtailing all low-priority expenses are critical for efficient crisis management.

#3 Craft a comprehensive communication strategy

The role of communication in crisis management can hardly be depreciated since it’s the most powerful tool to prevent panic. Unfortunately, too often, companies focus on specific stakeholder groups only — namely investors, key clients, and regulators — all while neglecting employees, suppliers, and casual customers. Such an approach is a huge mistake that can become fatal for your business.

Timely and clear communications are critical when doing the groundwork for business rehabilitation and securing continuous support from all the stakeholders. Make sure that safety and security are top of mind throughout the whole communication strategy since people will be looking for guidance and response.

You should understand and address the main needs and concerns of all stakeholder groups — employees, clients, investors and creditors, suppliers, government and regulators — as well as articulate your financial business recovery plan.

#4 Leverage the policies offered by governments

Local and central governments all over the world have published several social-insurance and fiscal policies to support businesses. New developments are mainly related to job retention, tax payment deferring, grant funding, and loans. It’s important to notice that they may vary depending on country, sector, and jurisdiction.

Companies need to observe such opportunities and determine how each can be applied to their particular circumstances. Programs of support can help to not only mitigate risks but also to ease the burden on enterprises.

#5 Increase resilience in the run-up to the “new norm”

We should recognize that the COVID-19 crisis will change society and our businesses in a myriad of ways. It’s already fueling such sectors as online shopping, mobile banking and fintech, distance education, and public health investment.

Business continuity and disaster recovery planning are first priorities; but as soon as you navigate the emergency stage of the crisis, be sure to analyze the changes that the crisis delivers, and reflect all the knowledge in your immediate plans to thrive at any later dates.

The coronavirus outbreak is testing business leaders in every industry all over the world. Its effects could last longer and result in greater complications than anyone expects. This uncertainty gives one more reason for leaders to leverage the practices described above and source professional crisis management consulting services from TEAM International.

The insights and high-quality business continuity services that we offer help to create a more stable and agile working environment for employees, clients, investors, suppliers, governments, and regulators.