Planning for continuity with COVID-19

  • About ServiceNow
  • Crisis Management
  • Dean Robison
  • 2020
March 25, 2020

Shot of a young woman reading papers while working on a laptop at homehttp://195.154.178.81/DATA/i_collage/pu/shoots/804608.jpg

COVID-19 has put the business continuity plans of every SaaS company to the test, and the test isn’t over. But we’ve learned a few things in the last week that I’m hoping will help your organization.

 

It’s all about people

This isn’t a traditional BC/DR scenario, where a disaster like an earthquake knocks a data center offline. It’s about how we adapt to support employees connecting and operating from home, so we can maintain our support for our customers. This means four things for us: 

  • Ensure that everyone has what they need for secure connectivity, with all the tools they need to do their jobs. Because we don’t know what the massive, global shift to working-from-home will do to home bandwidth, we’ve published expense guidance on tethering mobile devices and purchasing MiFi hotspots.

  • Build reporting that keeps a daily, laser-like focus on productivity and absenteeism so we can adjust available capacity to meet our most critical needs. 

  • “Press pause” on all non-critical programs, so we can reallocate people’s time to more effective communication and collaboration across global sites.

  • Have plans to adapt how we hire and ramp up new team members quickly 

 

Clear communications are more essential than ever

In this rapidly-evolving scenario, everyone wants to be helpful, which is terrific. But it also runs a higher risk of miscommunications. Early on, we realized how critical it was to clarify roles and responsibilities for communications, both internal and external. Even if people think they know this, it’s important to reinforce who should be the point person for communications. This is especially essential to ensure that we’ve got clear lines of communication between our teams and those we depend on to deliver excellent support – no crossed wires. We also want to ensure everyone’s on the same page, so we run daily standups, no longer than 30 minutes, so that all of our leaders have the same situational awareness. 

 

No plan survives first contact – adapt, iterate, and innovate

By themselves, plans are no substitute for continuous planning and adaptation. We don’t know how the COVID-19 situation will play out, except that it will be fluid, and we have to have an adaptive mindset. We’ve already had to adapt our plan from a single site, one-time event to a protracted event affecting us globally. As I noted earlier, we run daily standups to report progress and status. We run capacity modelling and scenario planning exercises to assess different decisions we might have to make in advance. We even outlined new procedures for how we collaborate, taking into account our new circumstances. It’s not enough to say ‘we have a plan’.  Leaders at every level need to focus their time on adapting and updating their plans to stay a step ahead of a rapidly changing situation. 

 

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