With the heightened awareness around the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we would like to share how Systems Engineering has prepared to handle potential upcoming challenges, as well as how you should be thinking through your approach. Over the years, we have worked with a number of our clients to develop Business Continuity Plans, applying critical thinking to how they would handle a pandemic scenario. These organizations are generally going to be better prepared to handle the uncertain path ahead.
How is Systems Engineering prepared?
- Business Continuity Plan Review
For years, we have cared for the pandemic scenario in our business continuity planning efforts. As it relates to this Coronavirus, at this point, we are planning for potential large-scale absenteeism among our staff and key vendors. Our disaster response team is ready to address the dynamic situation. We have tested our plans and our technology over the years as well as deployed numerous work from home tools and infrastructure.
- Remote Client Work
We are considering the possibility that our leadership team, our staff, or our clients may want to be more cautious than CDC recommendations. We already see larger organizations like Twitter “strongly encouraging” their staff everywhere to work from home. At Systems Engineering, we are running through scheduling and technology scenarios that will enable our otherwise on-site staff to work at client locations remotely for a period of time if deemed necessary.
- Managed Services
Our managed service practices such as Help Desk, Network Operations Center (NOC), EventWatch services, and many others are already prepared to handle a considerable amount of pandemic-related absence and disruption. These capabilities are regularly tested in the winter months when storms cause short-term disruptions in our in-office attendance.
Should the response to COVID-19 escalate to a Force Majeure event, Systems Engineering is well prepared to weather the possibilities of this situation. In accordance with our Master Service Agreement, it may become impossible to maintain service levels by Systems Engineering or our vendors, in which case we will continue to operate on a best effort basis until the situation improves.
How can I prepare my business for disruption?
- Conduct a Tabletop/Thought Exercise
It’s never too late to start preparing your business by re-visiting your Business Continuity Plan. If we were to conduct a quick tabletop exercise with a client today, the scenario could be:
"The first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 have just been reported in [your town here]."
How is your staff going to react to this news? What will the response be from the leadership team?
Fast-forward 1 week. Several additional cases of Coronavirus in [your town here] have been confirmed, including one death. Over 75% of your staff are unwilling or unable to show up to work due to school closures, caring for a sick loved one, or are under an imposed isolation/quarantine.
Critical Business Functions: What are the most critical functions you will need to keep functioning? Think about both external functions as well as internal (payroll, etc.). Is there any cross-training that should occur now?
Work Remote: Do you have remote work capabilities? Do you have sufficient licensing to do so? What computers will your staff use to work remotely, or connect to your network? Do you trust those devices? At what point do you encourage/require employees, visitors, and contractors to remain at home?
Communication: How will you communicate with your employees if they are not in the office? Can they check email remotely? How will you communicate closures, delays, or disruptions to your customers and vendors?
Phones: How will you manage phone calls, routing, messages, or your call center?
- Meetings and Conferences
Are there steps you want to consider now, such as encouraging the use of Microsoft Teams or Cisco WebEx meetings and video collaboration over in-person meetings? If now is not the time to declare that, what would it take for you to get to that point?
- Vendor Management
Make a list of the key vendors your business relies on and get in touch with them to understand how prepared they are to handle potential disruption.
At Systems Engineering, we take Business Continuity Planning very seriously and are confident in our level of preparedness for the Coronavirus as we see it today. This is a good reminder of the importance of going through the business continuity planning process and regularly utilizing tabletop scenarios to test the team as well as the plan. Contact your Account Manager if you would like more information on how Systems Engineering can help with your business continuity planning. You can also connect with us at 888.624.6737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay current on the news and events to keep your remote workforce productive and secure by visiting our COVID-19 Resource Portal.