The global coronavirus crisis is triggering major disruptions for companies in Vietnam and throughout the world. The unique circumstances mean that many managers are left having to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

In terms of preparing for the worst, there are certain actions that you can take as you reconsider your business structure and make arrangements to hedge against further risks.

1. Conduct an audit

Make an audit of your processes and identify those that are critical to keep the company running. This enables you to reallocate resources from support functions to those departments that are critical. As an example, you may move staff from market research activities to the customer service department.

2. Protect decision-makers

Split your management team and staff into two groups. These groups should not have physical contact with each other throughout the crisis. This is very important in ensuring business continuity.

The CEO must not meet face-to-face with the second-in-command. Every critical function should be covered by two executives, and this approach should go all the way to the lower management levels.

There should be an early mutual handover of decisions and actions to be taken for each pair of executives in case one of them is unable to work.

3. Go online

Make use of online conferencing tools and allow social distancing through work-from-home allowance. For the process of making managerial decisions and taking actions, there is often no need to physically meet in a conference room.

Luckily, there are great options available – even for free – to have internal and external discussions. This also requires that you trust employees with a work-at-home policy and provide them with the IT infrastructure required. Often, this just requires a laptop for online conferencing.

4. Strengthen communication

Communicate clearly and timely with staff and external stakeholders, including suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders, about your plans and your assumptions of how the crisis will evolve. Clarity is important in times of crisis.

You also should make sure that communication is centralised in order to avoid ambiguous messaging.

5. Learn from experience

After the crisis, make sure that your company has learned its lessons. This can help you to plan better for the next minor or major crisis. Going through this process will give you a better understanding of the risks that could potentially disrupt your business.

By Dr. Burkhard Schrage – Programme manager for Management RMIT Vietnam School of Business and Management

Vietnam Investment Review