Companies all over the globe are experiencing the impacts of the current pandemic first-hand, including service providers. Beyond their focus to protect their workers, service providers are now further challenged to meet support commitments to their clients. Unlike the stock market crash of 1929 or the financial bust of 2008 where the economy was drastically impacted, today’s COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the lives of service providers’ employees and contractors. The effects are most pronounced where service providers are contracted for offshore Run support to their clients as they, themselves, adhere to government-imposed orders to restrict movement, adhere to curfews, and even stay-at-home.
While it is likely many companies have already reached out to their offshore service providers, there are five critical and practical steps all companies must take as they engage, assess and partner with their providers to ensure continuity of critical operations through this very challenging time.
Current state assessment of manpower. A host of countries have issued either stay-at-home orders or some form of movement control, lockdown, or curfew orders, and all countries have quarantine orders for suspected and known infections. This has caused a level of uncertainty of the Run support capacity offshore service providers have actively engaged with their accounts.
1.Reach out to your service providers to understand the extent of the available Run support resources for your environment. Understand how support is being provided today and what risks your provider sees in being able to sustain support in the near-term. Note that many service providers and their employees are facing challenges with telecom infrastructure, connectivity to their own facilities, and even equipment access (WiFi, broadband, laptops/desktops). Assessing the available base of people who can provide your support is crucial.
Business continuity plans and actions taken to date. Dust off documentation on your service provider’s business continuity plans (if they exist in your agreements today) and request updates. Determine if these plans are being acted upon and discuss gaps and open concerns with your service providers. Perform a review with your service providers of key resources and determine their availability. Seek to understand how they would backfill those key positions in the event that one or more key resources becomes ill.
Prioritization of support needs. As you learn more about the manpower capacity of your service providers, you may need to prioritize your support needs. At a minimum, you should plan for resource reductions and provide prioritization of work efforts should manpower availability fall below minimum thresholds. Focus your service provider’s efforts to the most critical support needs of your organization to mitigate the effects of available resources.
Documentation currency. Amidst the uncertainty of the health and safety of your personnel as well as your service provider’s, make it a priority to assess your system’s documentation (i.e., procedures, runbooks, business continuity and disaster recovery plans). Request full access to this documentation to assess its current state. If gaps are identified, set clear expectations for when you expect these gaps to be addressed. Addressing and mitigating these gaps will benefit both parties should resources need to be replaced or work assignments changed.