When Crisis Strikes: Is Your Business Continuity Plan Up to the Challenge?

As a business leader in Kenya, have you taken a moment to consider how your organization will fare in the face of protests? 

Recent protests sparked by the Finance Bill 2024 in Kenya have served as a stark reminder of the volatility inherent in today’s global business landscape. Civil unrest, economic instability, and political tensions can erupt unexpectedly, disrupting supply chains, jeopardizing employee safety, and tarnishing hard-earned reputations. As a business leader in Kenya, have you taken a moment to consider how your organization would fare in the face of such unforeseen challenges? Could you confidently say that your business is resilient enough to withstand these disruptions? Do you have a comprehensive risk management and business continuity plan (BCP) in place to safeguard your operations, protect your employees, and ensure your company’s survival and success?

In these situations, Risk and BCP (Business Continuity Planning) managers play a pivotal role in safeguarding their organizations. Their expertise is crucial in not only responding to crises but also in proactively preparing for and mitigating potential disruptions. By identifying and assessing risks, developing comprehensive continuity plans, and implementing effective response strategies. These professionals can help organizations navigate through turbulent times and ensure their long-term survival and success. BCP solution and design is composed of 3 steps looking at what to do before, during, and after crisis.Here is a breakdown of ow you can be better prepared:

Pre-Crisis:

  1. Risk Assessment:
    • Thoroughly identify and evaluate potential risks related to political unrest, economic instability, social discontent, and other relevant factors.
    • Assess the potential impact of these risks on all aspects of the organization’s operations, including supply chains, employee safety, financial stability, and brand reputation.
    • Develop proactive risk mitigation strategies to address vulnerabilities and minimize the potential consequences of these risks.
  2. Business Continuity Planning:
    • Develop and maintain comprehensive business continuity plans that address potential disruptions caused by protests, violence, or other unforeseen events. Make sure all staff are aware of your BCP plans.
    • Identify critical business functions and processes that must be maintained during a crisis, prioritizing essential services and operations.
    • Establish alternative work arrangements (e.g., remote work, relocation), communication channels, and supply chain contingencies to ensure operational resilience.
    • Conduct regular drills and exercises to test the effectiveness of the plans and ensure that all employees are familiar with their roles and responsibilities during a crisis.
  3. Scenario Planning and Testing:
    • Develop scenarios for potential disruptions and test responses to ensure preparedness and identify weaknesses in the plan.

During Crisis:

  1. Monitoring and Communication:
    • Actively monitor the evolving situation, staying informed about the latest developments in the protests and any potential impacts on the organization.
    • Establish and maintain open lines of communication with employees, stakeholders, partners, local authorities,and emergency services to provide updates, guidance, and support.
    • Utilize various communication channels (e.g., email, SMS, social media) to ensure timely dissemination of information and address concerns.
    • Social Media Monitoring: Actively monitor social media for mentions of the organization and potential misinformation. Respond to any concerns or inquiries promptly and professionally.
    • Internal Communication Guidance: Advise staff on appropriate communication during the crisis, emphasizing the importance of not speaking on behalf of the company without authorization and avoiding sharing sensitive information on social media or other public platforms.
  2. Incident Response:
    • Activate the incident response team immediately upon recognizing a potential crisis.
    • Implement the pre-defined business continuity plans, adapting them to the specific circumstances of the situation.
    • Prioritize the safety and security of employees and assets, taking necessary measures to protect them from harm. This includes mapping out the nearest hospitals and emergency services to staff locations.
    • Manage communication with internal and external stakeholders transparently and honestly to maintain trust and credibility.
  3. Business Continuity Management:
    • Ensure the continuity of critical business functions and processes, prioritizing essential services and minimizing disruption.
    • Implement alternative work arrangements, such as remote work or relocation, as needed to maintain productivity and operational efficiency.
    • Proactively manage supply chain disruptions by identifying alternative suppliers or logistics routes to avoid shortages or delays.

Post-Crisis:

  1. Review and Evaluation:
    • Conduct a thorough review and analysis of the organization’s response to the crisis, identifying what worked well and what could be improved.
    • Gather feedback from employees, stakeholders, and partners to gain a comprehensive understanding of the impact of the crisis and the effectiveness of the response.
    • Update business continuity plans based on lessons learned and emerging risks to ensure better preparedness for future events.
  2. Recovery and Restoration:
    • Assess the full extent of the damage and impact of the crisis on the organization, including financial losses,reputational damage, and operational disruptions.
    • Develop a comprehensive recovery plan to restore normal operations as quickly and efficiently as possible.
    • Provide support to employees and stakeholders affected by the crisis, such as counseling services, financial assistance, or relocation assistance.

By taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to risk management and business continuity planning, organizations can navigate through challenging situations like the Kenyan protests, minimizing disruption, protecting their stakeholders,and emerging stronger and more resilient in the long run.

By Stella Makona Simiyu – Managing Director Sentinel Africa Consulting Uganda and Chair of The BCI Eastern Africa Chapter

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