Posted: March 18, 2020

As we are all more than aware, concerns over the current coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic are having a profound impact on business travel and working environments. With many employees now being encouraged to work from home, it is critical to develop a sound business continuity plan enabling you to be productive as possible, whether in a head office, out at a remote site or working from home.

In this blog, we provide some practical guidance, particularly to asset-intensive industries like energy and mining often with remote sites, on how the right technology can minimise the impact during the pandemic or longer-term as a society we become more accustomed to working remotely.

Just 12% of more than 1,500 people polled in a Gartner business continuity survey believe their businesses are highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus. Most respondents (56%) rate themselves somewhat prepared, and 11% said they were either relatively or very unprepared. Just 2% of respondents believe their business can continue as normal, highlighting the huge range of businesses that could be affected by the outbreak.
(Source: Gartner – The 10 pillars of Pandemic Preparation)

Our Guide to Business Continuity for Asset-intensive Industries

  1. Embrace the cloud
    If your business systems are still on-premise, this can cause significant challenges when your finance and operations team need to access data remotely. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to embrace secure cloud technology to make the transition.
  2. Outsource in times of crisis
    Moving your finance, asset management and supply chain systems to the cloud doesn’t have to be a lengthy process making demands on your already stretched internal IT department. Progressive TSL’s ProEther provides a flexible way for asset-intensive industries to manage their business systems such as Infor SunSystems for Finance and Asset Management Systems IBM Maximo and Infor EAM, without calling upon your internal IT department. Progressive TSL can fully manage all of your applications and programmes used on a day-to-day basis.
  3. Stay safe
    Be extra vigilant over the coming weeks, COVID-19 is being used as a phishing lure by cybercriminals and nation-states. We expect to see an increase in exploits related to COVID-19 as publicity around the virus increases. Cybercriminals are using trusted brands, like the World Health Organization (WHO) & U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), to build credibility and entice users into opening attachments.  Mimecast provides some great tips on how to manage those new threats, see the Mimecast blog for more information. Many companies in our industry are nervous about the security implications of transitioning to the cloud, but modern technology such as ProEther offer a private cloud which provides a safe and secure way to gain all the benefits of the cloud without the risks.
  4. Don’t be struck down by power cuts and lapses of internet connectivity
    Don’t risk your systems being at the mercy of an unreliable power supply.  If your systems are housed in a robust data centre, the hosting provider will take the necessary precautions to protect you against potentially very damaging power outages. Multi-located energy, mining and engineering companies need to be able to input and access data while maintaining one single set of data across the company. If there’s an internet disconnect between remote sites and head office, you could lose valuable data. Progressive TSL offers a tool that will overcome the challenges of poor internet connectivity. ProSync enables remote sites to use local systems that synchronise between all locations, including head office. Read our blog Overcoming Connectivity Issues for more information.
  5. Check on Third-party preparedness
    Not only will your company be affected; you will also need to take into account your supplier/vendors/partners and gain a total view of your dependencies. Safeguard with planning in place to retain operations even if suppliers or third-party vendors are slow to respond to requests. Review all your suppliers (starting with the most important) to check that they have business continuity plans ready to go. Identify crucial supplier problems and make contingency plans for their failure – before it results in low performance or downtime for your business.
  6. Utilise virtual conferencing
    Many experts are advising to maintain social distancing and even suggest banning significant events. For companies that survive and thrive on regular face-to-face meetings with internal and external people, this is an issue. Relations with your partners and stakeholders should still be maintained but at a safe distance. Plan that all staff who need to have meetings have the capacity to video conference whether they are at home or in office -to minimise unnecessary travel and the spread of COVID-19. Gartner has a useful meeting solution list cherry-picked by b2b customers. At Progressive TSL we are using Microsoft Skype for Business and Teams to hold regular video calls with our colleagues and clients to stay connected.

The recent health scare has been a wake-up call for some of the companies working in our asset-intensive industries. Progressive TSL would be happy to talk through your concerns during these unsettling times and how technology can support you.