Business Continuity Planning in the Era of Pandemic

Chuck Cook | RenovoData

In normal times, 3PLs and trucking companies need comprehensive business continuity plans, and that need is heightened as we face the problems posed by COVID-19. The virus has raised new demands on our time and resources, yet our operations must go on, even though we don’t know how long the crisis will last, or what its long-term effects will be.

Before the pandemic, few organizations, 3PLs and trucking companies included, had plans in place to cope with such an event. We now have to find workarounds based on our existing plans and develop creative ways to stay on track. To do so, we must act quickly, making sure to obtain solid technical and procedural guidance.

Creating a Plan

The purpose of business continuity plans is to create documented systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company. The objective is to maintain operations before, during and after an event to maintain operations with minimal interruption. Although current conditions demand changes to our business continuity plans, the aims remain unchanged.

Pivotal Points

Crises like the pandemic can be potential pivot points. Although COVID-19 is no cause for celebration, it is also true that any major disruption forces businesses to reassess their procedures, and that often leads to future improvements. Many breakthroughs have been made in response to emergencies.

Companies that continually plan, test, modify, and test again to assess current activities and anticipate future contingencies, with every department and function considered, will always be the best-prepared for the unexpected. In addition, there are steps that can be taken to prepare for extreme disruptions. An excellent example is the establishment of a remote location where day-to-day business can be resumed in the wake of even severe breakdowns.

Essential elements of your previous business continuity plans will be kept, but every business process must be reevaluated. Some changes will require energy and ingenuity, while others will need no more than minor procedural shifts. 

Essential elements of your previous business continuity plans will be kept, but every business process must be reevaluated. Some changes will require energy and ingenuity while others will need no more than minor procedural shifts

For 3PLs and trucking companies, reliable cybersecurity, data protection, disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities are as important as ever. This is because malware assaults, weather events, and other familiar threats are still with us through the pandemic. Now security will require more vigilance than before, since cybercriminals are designing fresh attacks that exploit weaknesses brought on by the pandemic.

When planning new continuity strategies, 3PLs and trucking companies should involve as many employees as possible.

Human Factors Are as Important as Business Processes

•   Remote employees will be spending significant workday time engaged with their families and other personal obligations.
•   The suddenly changed environment will lead to the spontaneous evolution of new customs and corporate cultures.
•   In times like these, people worry about job security, so do what you can to reassure your workers that you care about protecting their employment.

Reevaluate Business Functions

•   Identify how business continuity is being affected by the pandemic.
•   Eliminate or reduce nonessential tasks.
•   Designate employees to oversee business continuity planning.
•   Establish new chains of command to support plans.
•   Choose the people, with emphasis on IT staff, who should work onsite, and keep the number as low as you can.
•   Ensure that everyone, remote and non-remote, has the best possible technology for teleconferencing, and knows how to use it.

Establish Policies & Guidelines for Key Business Functions

•   Reevaluate the ways your people connect with customers, vendors, partners, and other members of the 3PL and trucking world.
•   Set guidelines for how business materials should be handled by remote workers. This includes printing documents, downloading and uploading files, and other tasks normally performed only on-site.
•   Reinforce company policies for the use of personal email and other external links. Take into account whether individual remote employees are using the company’s computers or their own equipment.
•   Devise and maintain thorough communications. Business continuity plans are only effective if they are followed scrupulously.

Accurate Communication Is Key

The pandemic is causing an overpowering onslaught of misinformation from countless sources. Due to 3PLs and trucking companies’ high rate of interactions, distortions of facts can spread quickly, so you should help your employees sort the true from the false. Some people will hold on to fictitious beliefs, but they should still follow management-approved procedures.

•   Make certain that policies and work assignments are clear to everyone. •   Keep your entire organization abreast of pandemic-related plans and decisions.
•   Set firm rules about necessary protective actions like hand washing and social distancing.
•   Distribute information from authoritative sources only, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other expert authorities. Do not rely on rumors, news commentators, politicians, or celebrities for facts.
•   Be prepared to diplomatically counter misconceptions about scientific accuracy.
•   Keep outsiders—customers, vendors, strategic partners, 3PL and trucking trade press, and general news media—informed about your company’s progress in the face of the catastrophe.

Seek Expert Technical Assistance

Remember that the pandemic will end one day, and the actions your company takes now will affect its future. With strong corporate commitment and expert technical guidance, 3PL and trucking companies can prevail, even with a dispersed workforce.        

Chuck Cook, CBCP, is President at RenovoData. For more information call toll-free at 877-834-3684, reference our website at www.renovodata.com, or email us at info@renovodata.com. RenovoData is a leading, remote cloud backup and disaster recovery service provider, helping companies protect critical data worldwide.