5-phase approach for business continuity in the age of Covid-19

A five-phase strategic and systematic approach to strengthen the resilience of organisations’ current business models is key to business continuity during the coronavirus pandemic, says research and advisory firm Gartner.

“Companies tend to have traditional business continuity strategies and plans that focus on the continuity of the resources and processes but omit the business model,” said Daniel Sun, research vice president at Gartner.

“However, the business model itself can be a threat to continuity of operations in external events, such as the global outbreak of Covid-19.”

CIOs can play a key role in the process of raising current business model resilience to ensure ongoing operations, since digital technologies and capabilities can influence every aspect of business models.

Phase 1 — Define the business model: Facing the contingency of Covid-19 outbreaks, companies should first focus on their core customers that are essential to their continuity of operations, and then refer to a process of defining their current business models by asking questions focused on their customers, value propositions, capabilities and financial models.

Although CIOs do not normally lead the process of defining business models, they should proactively engage with senior business leaders to run through 10 key questions regarding current business models. This is foundational for CIOs to actively participate in modifying current business models.

Phase 2 — Identify uncertainties: This step can be carried out through a strength, weakness, opportunity and threat (SWOT) analysis, or by brainstorming.

Given the wide range of uncertainties and threats, this step can benefit from a heterogeneous group of participants with diverse backgrounds and interests, particularly where IT is normally involved. Companies should focus on the risks that the uncertainty poses to the components of the business model.

“CIOs should participate in, or coordinate, the brainstorming sessions to identify any uncertainties from Covid-19 outbreaks,” said Sun. “CIOs can share some of IT’s potential uncertainties and threats, such as issues with IT infrastructure, applications and software systems.”

Phase 3 — Assess the impact: Multidisciplinary members should form a project team to assess, or even quantify, the impact of the identified uncertainties. CIOs can provide the potential impacts from an IT perspective.

Phase 4 — Design changes: At this point in the process, the emphasis is to develop tentative strategies rather than estimate their feasibility. Selecting and executing changes will follow in the next phase. CIOs and IT should leverage digital technologies and capabilities to facilitate the designed changes.

Phase 5 — Execute changes: The decision on which changes to execute is principally a decision for senior leadership teams. The strategies for changes defined in Phase 4 provide essential input for this decision process. Senior leadership teams should select the strategies they feel most compelling to implement, which is often based on both economic calculations and intuition.

“Once senior leadership teams select the business and IT change initiatives, CIOs should apply an agile approach in executing the initiatives. For example, they can form an agile (product) team of multidisciplinary team members, enabling the alignment between business and IT and ensuring delivery speed and quality,” said Sun.

“In crises such as the COVID-19 outbreak, agility, speed and quality are crucial for enabling the continuity of operations.”


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5-phase approach for business continuity in the age of Covid-19