The current pandemic has affected every business – either directly or indirectly.  Unless your business is in the medical field, you probably never thought about planning or preparing for a crisis such as the one we are all now facing.

Most well-managed companies will have some crisis management plans in place prior to certain disruptions, but many times those plans are narrow in scope – focusing only on events that either disrupt production or have impact on the company’s public image.  Companies can be more prepared for a wide variety of situations by forming an “Activation Team” that monitors potential risk for your business.

An Activation Team is made up of representatives from all key functional areas of your company.  This may include Purchasing, Engineering, Manufacturing/Production, Facility Management, Human Resources, Finance, Sales and Marketing.  It should not include executive management since their absence or inability to manage at any one time could be a risk issue itself.   A strong Activation Team will be comprised of middle management representatives who both understand the activities of their functional area as well as the overall business strategy of the company.

Once formed, the Activation Team has several purposes.  First, each member should conduct a SWOT analysis for their functional area.  This analysis will identify risk factors that could be barriers to future performance, both internal and external.  For the purposes of the Activation Team, these SWOT plans should focus primarily on Weaknesses and Threats.

Second, members should review changes or trends that affect their functional area’s performance, such as changes in supplier capacities, facility risks or employee availability.  Members should review these changes or trends on a regional, national and global basis – something the current pandemic has taught us.

Third, members should provide scenario-based responses to potential risks that include action plans and both physical and financial support or resources needed for those activities.

Finally, the Team should prioritize the risks across all functional areas by developing a Risk Index.  The Index assigns a number to each risk from 1-to-100 based on event likelihood and potential business disruption that could occur.  This will prioritize the risks and provide the Team with an updated assessment of the likelihood and potential impact of each identified.

Members should meet once per month to update the Team on the potential risks and modify the Risk Index if needed.  If a potential event does occur, then the Activation Team is prepared to implement its plan and each department will have an understanding of its role and responsibility within the plan.

While this type of planning may not cover every risk possible, it does provide a company with a head-start in planning, versus just reacting to an event – which can be costly for any company.