A pandemic situation without a common, proven contingency plan for IT and business is like jumping from a cliff without a parachute. Sofigate experts Paula Salmi and Katja Söderman reflect on what corona taught companies about change.

Imagine this situation: three friends are unexpectedly standing on the edge of a cliff. One friend is in panic. He doesn’t have a parachute; he has forgotten about it as there has always been something other urgent to do.

The other friend has a parachute on his back but jumping still doesn’t seem safe. The parachute is old, its functionality has not been tested and he hasn’t practiced jumping with it.

The third friend jumps confidently: he knows the parachute will carry him. After all, its condition is regularly checked. He also has practiced jumping and prepared for different weather conditions. Out of the three friends, who has the best chance to survive?

The corona panic seems to have surprised many companies, in the same way as these two buddies on the edge of the cliff. The epidemic has tested the state of the business continuity plan in a brutal way in both large and small businesses. Some will survive, others will not.

It is certain that corona will not remain as the only situation that will change our business. So what should you learn from it?

IT Major Incident Management process as base for Business Continuity Plan

The epidemic has highlighted that there is no business without technology: those who are now uncertain of the functioning of teleworking infrastructure and e-commerce are at risk of falling from the cliff.

In the IT world, we talk about the Major Incident Management process. To help a company cope with a major emergency affecting its entire business, you can learn from the MIM process and scale its best practices to ensure business continuity.

The MIM process is an accurate description that defines the operating model for large scale IT system malfunctions. The process is also tested, practiced and improved according to companies’ experiences.

Thus in an emergency, everyone involved in the process knows the roles, responsibilities, communication methods, solution options, and recovery plans to normalize the situation. The MIM process also has an owner who is responsible for its functionality and timeliness.

Business Continuity Plan is often without a named owner or has a nominal owner who has left the plan to cope on its own. A business continuity plan may also be so general that it is impossible to take it to the operational level.

Therefore, it is a good idea to base the whole business continuity plan on the MIM process and scale it to fit exceptional situations caused by something else than IT systems too.

Business scenario planning helps to prepare for threats

Preparing for change requires not only a good operating model, but also agreed roles and scenario work.

Strategic scenarios are a potential starting point for business continuity planning: gathering threats to business continuity and contemplating contingency plans. You should also go through the contingency plan in practice with the key players.

Of course you should not act like the world is ending, but preparing for sudden changes in the current situation is healthy realism: power outages, fires, floods, terrorism, cyber-attacks, infectious diseases and so on. Threat scenarios must be described in terms of the impact of each exceptional situation and the company’s own ability to adapt.

Resilient organizations rise stronger

The better an individual recovers from change, the more resilient he or she is. The same goes for companies and organizations.

Our resilience, our ability to recover from change, is weighed especially in major, unexpected crises like the corona the so-called black swans. Fortunately, resilience can be developed, both at the individual and organizational levels.

When the exceptional scenario happens, resilience is supported by the fact that roles and responsibilities have been thought through in advance. Who will take the lead in this exceptional situation and regularly bring the agreed core group together? The members of the team each have different, agreed responsibilities as required by the situation.

The more scalable people’s skills, roles, practices, and contract models are, the better the company will cope with sudden change.

About the authors:

Paula Salmi is a long-term IT professional who believes in the harmony of people and technology. She is responsible for project and change management business in the Sofigate’s Leading change and programs business area.

Katja Söderman is a change-driven expert and business manager at Sofigate. She is responsible for the Way of Working business area.

If you are like one of the friends standing on the edge of the cliff without a parachute: we can help you! We have parachutes and muscles to help your company move forward during difficult times. Contact us!

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