Continuity planning is the process of preparing so that your organization continues to deliver on its mission and mandate in the face of disruption. Now is the time to build your organization’s continuity plan in the event that COVID-19 lasts for months or more and because it is a best practice to have an organizational contingency plan in place.
Here are three things you can do to establish continuity planning in your organization:
1. Bring the issue of continuity planning to your board
As you and your board pivot from thinking about how to deliver on your mission today to how you will do it in the coming months, expand your thinking to consider the coming years and the next potential crisis. There is no better time than now for your board to gain an understanding of the value of a continuity plan and the wisdom of allocating funds to planning to ensure that, in any situation, mission-critical work continues.
2. Take time now to get organized
Start by creating a team centred virtual space to meet and share information. Just like the workplace environment, virtual meet-ups can include some social interaction and a time for sharing how everyone is doing!
As you begin your contingency planning journey here are some questions to consider as you build out your plan:
- What will you and your team need to operate remotely? Essential file, contracts, passwords
- What financial management and accounting changes do you need to consider to access bank accounts, signing authority or applying for aid?
- What additional technology or supplies are required to establish a virtual working space?
- What additional in-person safety protocols do you need to consider and do you have the supplies and knowledge to implement them?
- What is the communication plan to maintain contact with the public, community partners, clients and funders?
- What are the changing roles to consider for your volunteers and board members to assist you with achieving your essential mission and goals?
- What additional roles can you assume to support your community partners and clients and what additional resources do you need to support them?
- What additional challenges do your clients face and how can you respond?
- What work has emerged as critical versus non-critical?
- If you are a social enterprise, do you have the on-line capacity to sustain revenue generation to continue to operate?
- Have you reviewed your insurance policies and back-up plans for canceled events and to cover liabilities associated with facilities when no one is on site?
Whether you have had to scale back operations, move to an on-line platform or are scaling up to meet the current needs of your clients, now is the time to document the processes and procedures that you, your team, volunteers, and partners have had to adapt and change in order to operate during COVID-19 challenges.
3. Embrace our Role as an Essential Service
The COVID-19 response has exposed gaps in our social systems and organizations, and at the same time revealed our resilience and strength in responding to Canada’s most vulnerable populations. The silver-lining is that the integral role of the sector has been highlighted, recognized and is now in the forefront of Canadian minds. The opportunity is now, to step-up as a sector and to ensure that the goodwill and recognition that has been revealed is maintained beyond COVID-19.
Our coordinated response as a sector, will show our continued commitment to serving vulnerable communities and demonstrate our collective capacity to mobilize when new and challenging circumstances are presented. A sector-wide plan that is informed by the COVID-19 response can be our contribution in response to a global issue. An investment in Nova Scotia’s sector would produce a collaborative continuity plan that will ensure that the lessons learned through the COVID-19 crisis builds capacity for our next response to a challenge and perhaps make us even better positioned to achieve our sector mission and mandate going forward.