Our COVID-19 Business Continuity Plan
PlusPoint is a small business facing many of the challenges and concerns small businesses across the country are facing. Since we are in the business of consulting and advising other business leaders on their organization’s financial health, we have all the pieces you would expect us to have – financial reporting to measure the health of our business, financial plans and analysis to support good decisions, systems and processes to improve efficiency and support scale and, most importantly, a highly-skilled team of professionals. What we didn’t have was ‘the pandemic brings the economy to a screeching halt overnight’ plan. Who did?
We were fortunate, when the shelter-in-place orders were issued for Oregon and Washington, that we didn’t have to scramble to move our team to home offices. We have been a virtual team since inception and our team was already working efficiently from home. For a brief window it almost felt like business as usual and we knew that wouldn’t last. My business partner, Mike Temple, and I have managed a few crises over the course of our careers. We are also inclined to action and are natural problem-solvers. It only took a few sleepless nights and unproductive worry to start to work on our COVID-19 business survival continuity plan.
We know that many business leaders are still trying to navigate their way through this crisis and we thought sharing how we approached our plan might be helpful to some. The steps below are a brief summary of how we approached the problem.
The first step was to identify the risks to our business created by our new reality. It was critical to enabling us to move on to the next step of understanding potential outcomes. Examples of our risks included our new business pipeline drying up, engagements scheduled to start beginning to delay or defer, current clients cancelling or, worse yet, stopping operations altogether. While we all share some common risks, understanding risks that are specific to your business is important to this process.
With the risks identified the next step was to understand the impact of likely outcomes to our revenue. This required a significant amount of analysis of our existing clients and estimating which clients we believed would continue to engage throughout the crisis and at what level. We also looked at our pipeline to determine what, if any, new engagements would start in the near term. Finally, we had to determine the likelihood of new projects coming into the pipeline. We made sure to be balanced in our analysis and to not let the fear and uncertainty of the moment overshadow our thinking.
Understanding differing revenue scenarios enabled us to evaluate our costs and make decisions to balance costs with potential revenue outcomes. We identified those items we could eliminate or defer at this time and steps we could take down the road if things lasted longer or got worse than we estimated. The gut-wrenching part of this work is that our business is a people-powered business and most of our costs are for our team. We have invested in building a team that aligns with our culture and core values, brings incredible talents to our clients and works and plays well together. We know this current crisis will end and, when it does, this is the team we want in place. By getting creative and eliminating the constraints of thinking we needed to maintain our current structure, we were able to implement changes to our compensation structure to retain our team, mitigate the risks of revenue fluctuations and maintain critical healthcare benefits.
There is a lot of fear during times of crisis and maintaining open, transparent and caring communication with our team is critical. Once we had our plan, we brought our team together virtually to talk about the current crisis, how it evolved, the new reality it was creating, the impacts we saw to our business, our priorities, and how we planned to address it. It is never easy to have these conversations. We have invested in creating a culture that encourages our team to speak openly and freely about what is on their mind and it is moments like these that we see the benefit of that commitment to our culture. Our team, like everyone, is concerned about what the future holds and the foundation of trust we have worked to create is holding us all together in this moment.
Having the plan and understanding potential outcomes and additional steps we can take to maintain the financial health of business is just the start. Managing to that plan and adjusting as the facts and circumstances change is critical to it success. This is the not the time to put the plan in the drawer and forget about it. Today as I write this, I am also updating cash flow scenarios and staying connected with my team and clients. This is a very fluid situation and it is important to stay vigilant.
In times of crisis, it is easy to be reactive and to focus on the downside. This will pass and staying focused on the activities that support our purpose – flourish– is as important as ever. For us that means taking care of our team. Watching out for their safety and well-being, following social distancing guidelines, maintaining a cadence of communication and offering flexible work hours to support our team members who are now homeschooling children during normal work hours. It also means caring for our clients, understanding their concerns, helping them build their own continuity plans, and assisting them in navigating new programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program. Finally, it means staying in touch with our friends and professional connections during this time. We all need to know that the world is still out there and we are waiting to reconnect when this crisis passes.
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