Sprout IT's legal business continuity checklist

Jess Carey Posted By Jess Carey
from Burlington Media

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many businesses into having to conduct business in ways otherwise unthinkable just a few weeks ago.

To cope with the threats these new ways of working bring, it’s crucial that you implement a business continuity checklist for your firm to cope with as many eventualities and disruptions as possible. In this article, we discuss the essential areas which require your attention in order to minimize risk and optimise the current situation for the future.

We’ll cover:

  • basic risk identification
  • what this means for your workforce
  • what you need to consider in your business continuity checklist
  • reputation management
  • how to increase business agility during this time
  • considering professional advice
  • data security planning for legal firms

Risk Identification

The COVID-19 pandemic can be categorised under ‘unpredictable threat’ however there are elements to the characteristics of this and other threats which can be planned for.

Navigating around any unwelcome, unwanted, and unexpected emerging and present situation relies on a clear identification of risks. Every business – especially every legal firm – is now having to re-think strategy in line with the exceptional circumstances we now find ourselves in.

At this moment in time, you and other senior management and partners within your firm should take this opportunity to compose a checklist of risks your company may face within the next month, three months, six months, nine months, and year.

The points that we would recommend you consider include:

  • collecting information regularly used by all employees and stakeholders which, if compromised, may pose a risk to your business
  • consider the risks from operational, financial, reputational and strategic angles
  • speak with other businesses in your field. This will help develop your risk identification plan as well as adding further information that could affect you in the future, for example in supply chains

Your workforce

Your firm relies on all of its team members. This current situation has created many risks to your organisation associated with actions (or inactions) of your employees meaning that management of colleagues should be carried out as carefully as possible.

 The following points are significant risk areas which you should consider in respect of your staff:

  • health and safety – all offices and places of work must be compliant with COVID-19 regulations to protect staff
  • financial – what financial risks could apply to your business through employment issues?
  • reputational – protecting your staff during this time is crucial to maintain your reputation
  • legal – are you aware of your duty of care as an employer and legal implications of incorrect implementation of action?

It’s important you work holistically to identify, analyse, treat, and evaluate risks to your staff. Honest and transparent communication is key in order to maintain a successful workforce.

Implementing flexible working hours, ensuring that staff have the correct equipment to facilitate working from home, and asking what workers need to continue working to the best of their ability is key to pushing through this difficult time.

Business continuity strategy

In order for any firm to survive the impact of COVID-19, its leaders must create and implement a plan to shorten recovery time and to alleviate the brunt of the impact. Although this time may create obstacles, it also provides an unseen window of opportunity to evaluate working procedures which may benefit from revision now and in the longer run.

Aspects you may wish to consider include:

  • Internal functioning – with regards to your employees and equipment, how, why and who provides critical services to your firm? Do you need to suspend non-essential projects in order to work within social distancing guides and minimise exposure? Who are your high-risk employees and how can you protect them? Carefully analyse your chain of command and have alternates and designates in place as required. 
  • External functioning – all vendors, stakeholders, manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors must be in regular communication and continuously analysed and assessed for possible risk.

Reputation management

We all have a part to play in the successful navigation through this pandemic.

Many believe that the true winners on the other side of all of this will be the people and businesses who used this time to help others in their response. By assisting others less fortunate, whether that be directly through manufacturing equipment for key workers, developing technology to help those stuck indoors or simply donating funds to relevant causes, your actions will be remembered positively.

In this case, the long-term impacts of responding with your business at the forefront of your mind will outweigh the short-term benefits of inflating your prices or supply hoarding – negatively.

Avoid taking a short-sighted view of the pandemic and consider your community, country, and fellow human from a selfless perspective for true business longevity.

Use this time to become more ‘agile’ as a firm 

This is a time during which you can interrogate all your current procedures and strategies in order to work out what will be best practise for ‘the new normal’. The projects and ideas you had planned at the start of the year may not be appropriate or even possible to complete in today’s vastly different world.

Starting from point zero is perhaps too drastic however – rather go back to basics and build from a credible foundation. Return to your business values and morals and work out how to redefine these elements with the flexibility to survive our new economy and workplace.

 Be creative, understanding, and agile. Work with your staff and stakeholders to understand which processes are no longer possible and what newer methods may be created and adapted. Consider which voids can be filled and how you can help clients to stay afloat – after all, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Bring the best from the outside inside 

An outsourced risk management consultant can assist you in identifying, analysing, treating, and evaluating your business continuity checklist.

 Many smaller legal firms do not have an appointed member of staff to devise and implement a risk and crisis management plan and now, more than ever, this is a time to get ready for the next unexpected event.

Data security planning for legal firms

Because of the sheer number of staff working from home during this time, data security planning is an essential business structural requirement. Sprout IT set up the ability to operate remotely and access relevant documents securely. This allows for more flexible working during this time.

Increasing productivity and minimising interruption is paramount. Ensuring your staff all have the necessary hardware, software, relevant equipment, and a fast enough internet connection is required to reduce the pressure of your workload.

The ‘new normal’ has rapidly created the demand for updated data security policies and procedures. Working remotely has greatly increased the possibilities for cyber-attacks and other forms of cybercrime. Legal firms must be aware of these risks and train employees on current policies in order to protect data.

Sprout IT wants to assist the creation, implementation, and deployment of your business continuity plan making sure your technology and infrastructure are fully secure and compliant in order to maintain as much normality as possible as quickly as possible.

For more information about working remotely safely and effectively, check out our Legal Remote Security Hub

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