Building a plan to battle the virus

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Chartered accountant Gail Freeman of Gail Freeman and Co helps businesses build a plan to battle the coronavirus. This is a sponsored post. 

Mario came to the office concerned about the potential impact COVID 19 might have on his business.

Gail Freeman of Gail Freeman & Co.

“It’s a very worrying time. We don’t know when we might be closed down, how severe the impact will be on Australia and Australians,” he said.

“We don’t know if we’ll be safe and when things will return to normal.  In fact many of us don’t even know where to begin.”

I told him the first thing to do is put together a “disaster scenario” plan.

“I have a simple one because in my business it is easy enough for us all to do everything online and remotely,” I said.

“So for us, our plan is done in conjunction with our IT people. It may not be as simple for you. Might I suggest that you do some homework before we draft up a plan together.

“I recommend that you write down some ideas on where things are now, your key challenges, your concerns and your opportunities. 

“It would also be helpful to identify your key suppliers or other businesses that you work with so that we can make sure that you have access to everything that you need to keep the business operating for as long as is necessary.”

Mario said he’d do that immediately so we could talk again in a couple of days.

“As everything is moving so fast I want to make sure that the business can cope with any contingency,” he said.

I replied the next part of the disaster scenario plan was to look at different scenarios and their possible impacts on his business. 

“Together with you and your management team we would look at low-level, medium-level and high-level scenarios both for their severity and their impact on your business,” I told Mario.

“Having arrived at the different scenarios we would then create plans at each level. 

“It is important to test the plans so that you are ready to jump from one level to the next should it be required. 

“At the moment things are unfolding every day and the escalation is quite marked. 

“Last week, a complete shutdown didn’t seem realistic. 

“This week it seems more plausible and on a daily basis things could change again. We are just playing a waiting game so having the plans in place is critical.”

Mario said that sounded “very feasible” and could be done quite quickly. 

I said “When the scenarios become reality then everything is in place and ready for you to do what is necessary. 

“Obviously as this happens then you will be well placed to react and make good decisions rather than flying by the seat of your pants. 

“Remember that the value in the process is having everything ready but it can be quite challenging getting to the actual scenarios. 

“Like all planning processes, one of the benefits is that other opportunities will usually arise when the collective brains are working together and this will help you through these challenging times.”

Mario said he felt good about the plan and was keen to meet again soon to get the ball rolling.

Disclaimer: This column contains general advice, please do not rely on it. If you require specific advice on this topic please contact Gail Freeman or your professional adviser.

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