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COVID-19

We are signatory and bearer to a public trust for the protection of communities and consumers. To such effect it is imperative that we act in the protection of communities and consumers beginning with our working global teams, client-organizations in the risk-based challenge that we face to mitigate COVID-19 outbreak.

COVID-19 is affecting many across the globe, and this is causing repercussion the world economy. This is written to help our teams around the world help client-organizations with the evolving situation and implications to business. While the outbreak is moving quickly, meaning that the information that follows it is not the latest. Regardless, it will help provide a business perspective to help ourselves and others. A first was VAAP - AWA procedure, which through the freedoms that we enjoy sets a guideline to carryout remote assessment-audits; while intended for global application it can equally apply locally.

We keep monitoring COVID-19, a crisis, and a crisis is a story with an unknown ending. What is now known is that the human impact is already tragic, and that fortunately client-organizations and many other companies are taking actions to immediately protect their employees, address business challenges and risks, and help to mitigate the outbreak in whatever ways they can.

In analyzing the situation and observing others act there are a number of actions that can help client-organizations. These actions are convey in pointers to help applying crisis management. Because of the experience gained from the various pandemics from the past, influenza, MERS, SARS...SWINE... the following are guidelines. This is to indicate that they are by no means exhaustive or detailed, and applies differently to each situation.

  • Protection of your organization´s first line of defense is essential; these are the employees and workers. COVID-19 has been and is emotionally challenging. As change is constant affects our day-to-day activities in unprecedentedly. For client-organizations and each of us going on as usual, is not optional. Crisis Management can be tested trough planning execution of the plan to support employees that is consistent with the most conservative guidelines that might apply and has trigger points for policy changes. This provides for client-organizations to set forth reviewing of policies and the support of each. These can be assessed as part of our activities in ways to provide ease in understanding, in matters to deal with COVID-19 (consistent with local authorities while benchmarking the likes of the CDC (Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA), while excercising a level of freedom to act with autonomy. An autonomy that empowers with quickly evolving situation. This autonomy that set forth two-way communications providing for a a safe space for employees to express if they are feeling unsafe for any reason, as well as adherence to updated policies whether health, safety, security, quality and envionments.
     
  • Ensure finances that suffice face  the storm, weather is a pandemic, rain, hurricane, earthquake, in consideration of man-made or nature-caused. Client-organizations need defining scenarios tailored to their context of activities and nature of products. For the critical variables that will affect revenue and cost, they can define input numbers through analytic and expert input. Client-organizations should model their financials (cash flow, P&L, balance sheet) in each scenario and identify triggers that might significantly impair liquidity. Defining how to stabilize processes and activities and outcomes whether accounts optimization of payables and receivables; cost reduction; investments and so on.
     
  • The establishment of Crisis Management Teams (CMTs), and what will trigger these CMTs regardless of the crisis. Client-organizations should nominate a direct report of Top Management to lead the effort and the CMT comprises  of members from every function and discipline - appropriately effective ideas can come from anywhere. In the case of COVID-19 the CMT will need to step out of their day-to-day roles and dedicate most of their time to situational virus response. A newer language such as: i) employees' health, welfare, and ability to perform each of their roles; ii) client-organization's financial stress-testing with development of a contingency plan; iii) supply-chain monitoring, rapid response, and long-term resiliency (see below for more); iv) marketing and sales responses to demand shocks; v) coordination and communication with relevant constituencies; and vi) other situational awareness matters. When action needs be taken whether quick response or long term.
     
  • The supply chain need be consider the client-organizations role and impact. Client-organizations need to define the extent and likely duration of their supply-chain exposure to areas that are experiencing their specific community of consumers and transmission of information, whether the role is that of an OEM, tier-1, -2, and -3 suppliers, and inventory levels. Most Client-organizations may primarily focus on immediate stabilization, with consideration to the Chinese suppliers, if so it is. Like in COVID-19, Chinese producers will soon be in restart mode. To this effect, consideration needs be given to consider rationing critical parts, pre-booking rail/air-freight capacity, using after-sales stock as a bridge until production restarts, gaining higher priority from their suppliers, and, of course, supporting supplier restarts. Client-organizations that are government agencies need to think similarly free-market and their constituents..
     
  • As expected in the free market, make sure that Client-organizations, whether government or service provider or manufacturer, stay close to their community of consumers. Client-organizations that navigate disruptions better often succeed because they invest in their core customer segments and anticipate their behaviors. Even in a socialist and communist societies such as China, similarly to the free market, while consumer demand is down, it hasn't disappeared. As change is constant, consumers are more so shifting toward online shopping, including all types of goods, including food and product delivery. Client-organizations should invest in online as part of their push for channels of  distribution; this includes ensuring the quality of goods sold online. Customers' changing preferences are not likely to go back to pre-outbreak norms. Mark Cuban, a USA billionaire of the Texas Mavericks, was recently seen buying stocks that are momentarily down because of COVID-19.
     
  • Simulate the plan, just like simulating a product recall. Many organizations do not invest  in understanding what it takes to plan for disruptions until they are in one. Simulations should clarify decision owners, ensure that roles for each top-team member are understood for applicability, and know the "elephants in the room" that may slow down any response, and ensure that, in the event, the actions needed to carry out the plan are fully understood and the required investment readily available.

    Demonstrate purpose based mission, values and vision. Client-organizations are only as strong as the communities of consumers within they are part. Companies need to figure out how to support response efforts-for example, by providing monetary resources, machinery and equipment, or expertise. For example, a client-organization may shift production to produce what the market needs, based on their expertise and equipment... like some organizations have done to shift production to medical masks, glasses, clothing...because COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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