A quarter of companies in the world have only just started developing business continuity plans (BCPs) in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As the outbreak forces business administrators to implement visitor health declarations, telecommuting or split-ops work arrangements, how can resource- and manpower-strapped SMEs manage these disruptions to their daily operations?
Howie Lim speaks with Veemal Gungadin, CEO, GlobalSignIn to find out.
[The full script of the interview with Veemal Gungadin on MoneyFM 89.3]
How to Deal with Disruptions to SME Operations
Howie: Mind your business with Howie Lim only on MoneyFM 89.3. This is Prime Time on Money.FM 89.3. Now a quarter of companies in the world have only just started developing business continuity plans (BCP) in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, as the outbreak forces business administrators to implement visitor health declarations, telecommuting or split ops work arrangements. How can resource- and manpower- strapped SMEs manage these disruptions to their daily operations? Even as Enterprise Singapore launched a guide on BCP, SMEs struggle with a deluge of information and a lack of resources. Without the tools to guide a streamlined process, implementing BCP becomes an administrative nightmare. To help SMEs cope, leading events management technology provider GlobalSign.in has developed Wylcome – a visitor management web app with a free temperature check-in tool. A veteran in events tech, Veemal Gungadin is CEO at GlobalSign.in and is well-versed in what it takes to manage crowds of people. Thanks for joining us today, Veemal.
Veemal: Thank you, Howie.
Howie: it’s all BCP talk these days. The implementation of BCP is and why it’s important. But it must be a really daunting process for SMEs, as we just mentioned.
Veemal: Now, when we hear about BCP, particularly getting that it’s only large organisations that tend to put into place business continuity programs. But these days, with COVID-19, it’s essential for SMEs as well to put into place BCP. It sounds daunting, but it can be quite straightforward.
Howie: What sort of things are they up against? For smaller organisations to implement a BCP?
Veemal: Well, the very first thing is to appoint a BCP manager – somebody, who will be championing a BCP internally within the organisation. Depending on the size of an organisation, it could be a charged person, an admin person, who takes care of and champions this. When we talk about BCP, there are four areas we are looking at:
- what processes to put into place regarding human resources,
- the business processes itself,
- suppliers and customers,
- and then, with regards to communication, how you communicate internally with your staff and with your customers as well.
Howie: That all sounds kind of doable, of course, coming from a person who works at a larger organisation and everything is sort of going all right, after a month. But let’s say you don’t have a BCP at all. Is it too late now to come up with one? How can they go about doing that?
Veemal: Well, the thing is it’s never too late. The next thing we have on hand right now is nobody knows how long the current situation is going to last. Like up until a couple of weeks ago, we thought, hey, another a month or two of the situation was getting better, and Singapore would be right. We’re seeing a second wave of infections coming over concerning what’s happening in Europe and the US.
People are talking about this whole situation, whatever that is, could last up until the end of the year. For sure, it’s not too late right now. In fact, this is probably the time to look towards putting into place BCP processes. For example, pretty much one of the simple things that a business can do today is to split the company into two teams: team A and team B. This week team A works in the office while team B works remotely.
In case there’s an infection in one of the teams, the business can continue running. That’s what you want to put into place. Of course, with regards to putting practices like this into place, it becomes crucial for SMEs to ensure that those people, who are working remotely, have the relevant tools that allow them to do their business, like for example remote telephony, access to emails. We’re talking about the basics.
But on top of that, it becomes vital to keep track of the wellbeing of your staff. Like those who work from home, how are they doing? Right now, the best practice is still to keep track of temperatures of your employees at the organisation twice daily: morning and afternoon. You can enforce them to do it when all your staff is in the office, but you do want to apply that also when people are working from home.
Howie: Let’s talk about some of the common challenges they might face: they don’t know how to do it; there is the administrative workload of, say, regular visitor and employee check-ins like you just mentioned. How can these be dealt with?
Veemal: Well, the thing is, in any organisation, you will deal with employees, who will not necessarily be compliant. I mean, you’d tell them to log their temperature there would not necessarily do that.
Howie: Oh, no. Guilty as charged.
Veemal: Right. But how can you implement these processes? How can you even ultimately automate some processes, like sending reminders to employees about not plugging in the temperature? And how is it when visitors are coming over to your workplace? You need to track the health declaration of those visitors to ensure that they haven’t been in China… Still from China. But now we’re also asking – “Did you come from Europe, from one of the infected countries?”. It’s essential to keep track of this information. What we realise is that people tend to refer to good old paper. When you’re using paper, obviously it comes with all challenges. You’ll have different sheets of paper. How do you keep that? How do you keep track of the information?
Veemal: Right. And then, touchwood, one day there’s a contact tracing to be done.
Veemal: And now you have to go back to the bunch of papers and find the relevant information. Of course, it’s all error-prone. There’s somebody who comes to your office with health issues. His name is Jack. But “Jack” what? How do you contact that guy? You should give him some valuable information about the case and what the next steps should be done. You’re doing that not just for your workplace safety, but for your visitors’ safety as well.
Howie: Well, we’re speaking with Veemal Gungadin, who is CEO at GlobalSign.in. Let’s talk about tech solutions that can ensure workplace health and safety for employees and also for visitors.
Veemal: So there’s a tech solution out there. We’ve worked on building up such a tool specifically for the current situation – COVID-19. Our whole company comes from the event tech industry. What we’ve done is we leveraged on technology that we already had and repurposed our tech solutions for the current situation. For example, we have the tools that allow companies to do a full temperature checking for the employees. So if you want to have a virtual assistant that helps you ensure your employees are logging their temperatures twice daily, then these can be automated. To automate this, we provide a free tool, which can be used by any SME within Singapore. And that tool integrates with SingPass Mobile App; employees just authenticate themselves with SingPass Mobile App.
Howie: And it’s called Wylcome. Is that right?
Veemal: That’s correct. The benefit that this tool provides you is automation, what usually an admin person would have to do or you BCP manager would have to do. If there’s any of your staff that logs a temperature above 37.5, you immediately get a notification; your HR manager receives a notification, and your BCP manager gets a notification. Also, it’s a mobile tool which keeps track of the location. Tomorrow you will need to draw up a report on where your staff were and then where the clusters with infected cases. With Wylcome you can pull out these kinds of reports. The tool is available basically for free for any SME in Singapore.
Howie: How can SMEs be sure that the information is accurate? For example, it’s verified. It’s traceable.
Veemal: There are different types of information. For one thing, we’re talking about temperature checking. One of the tools we provide is a visitor registration system. When visitors are coming into your office, and you’re tracking their information. It’s easier to ensure that you have the accurate information of your employee compared to your visitor. Visitor tracking tool – that’s also a tool we provide, which integrates with SingPass Mobile App as well. In this case, visitors launch SingPass Mobile App on their phones, use their fingerprint or their face ID on the iPhones to validate themselves. And then they check-in. You have accurate information about the identity of the person who’s coming into your office. Down the road, if there is any contact tracing to be done, you ensure who is in your office and then you can keep track of their official phone number as well.
We have put into place these tools. With regards to Wylcome, it’s helping SMEs keep their workplaces safe and secure.
Howie: That obviously takes away a huge chunk of work from an administrative person, especially in, say, manpower-strapped SMEs.
Veemal: Correct. It’s a tough time right now. It’s more significant uncertainty, lots of organisations are using this time to look at what else they should improve within their businesses, which is the right thing, I would say. The last thing that you want to be spending your time is administrative work. You can leverage digital tools and automate administrative work, and you’re free.
Howie: Veemal Gungadin, CEO at GlobalSign.in. Thanks for your time.
Veemal: Thank you.