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Practice a business continuity plan like a fire drill

The key to success in a crisis like Covid-19 is not to be reactive but proactive, say procurement experts – and a business continuity plan can be a critical pillar

Covid-19 has highlighted that organisational business continuity plans (BCP) should not be treated as tick box exercises, must be tested regularly and clearly communicated through the company.

It has become increasingly important for companies to speak with their full supply chain, communicating clearly with the organisations that are vital for a business. Speaking in a panel on business continuity plans during the Procurement and Supply Chain MENA Online summit, Imran Shareef, Head of Procurement Middle East, Libya, Egypt, Central Asia, Turkey & Pakistan at Motorola Solutions, discussed how it may also be necessary to re-negotiate with suppliers aspects of an existing contract, such as payment terms.

Particularly because if a key supplier goes under, it could have a significant impact on a business. “[You may have] to extend a mutual relationship… [checking] wherever a partner can support, can extend pay terms for us, so that we can help other suppliers that need support… we have seen it where a bigger player has accepted to delay payment so a smaller player can sustain in this environment,” he said.

Continuity plans have often been relegated to being treated as a checkbox to tick to satiate stakeholders, but the Covid-19 crisis has proven that they are crucial to the longevity of a business. Antony Petit, Chief Procurement Officer at Aster DM Healthcare, noted how for many organisations, their continuity plans were almost superficial, and did not have stringent-enough processes in place.

“Its not a big secret to say that most of our BCP’s had one adverse event mapped. You’ve got a fire in your warehouse, what do you do? But how many of us have predicted that you could have a fire in your warehouse and your warehouse manager being affected by Covid and is down for 14 days?” he said.

The industry should, he continued, practice continuity plans like fire drills. When run as a drill, it will expose potential flaws and unexpected issues in them, allowing a company to account for more unexpected events when it matters.

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