Adjusting Strategies to Ensure Business Continuity During the COVID-19 Crisis

Brought to you by WBR Insights

At the time of writing, the number of confirmed global coronavirus infections sits at a staggering 2,614,803, but that number changes daily.

It’s fair to say that the coronavirus outbreak took the world by surprise with the speed at which it spread across the globe. Countries have been reacting by instigating lockdown and social distancing measures to help slow the spread of the virus and prevent health systems from becoming overwhelmed.

These measures have had a massive impact on businesses, with many choosing to shut their doors for the time being, and others staying open but making significant changes to the way they operate.


Obviously, during the time of a global pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry is one that must continue to operate. The race is on to develop new treatments for the disease, as well as the vaccine that will signal the beginning of the end of this crisis. However, pharma companies are having to adjust strategies and their organizational structure to ensure business continuity.

“Any organization should modulate its response to incidents based upon business impact, in order to allocate precious resources to what poses the greatest threat to ongoing operations,” said Chief Operating and Science Officer, PharmaTech Associates, Bikash Chatterjee. “A business continuity framework prepares an organization to continue operations amidst the potential myriad business disruptions and aims to build high-level resilience in all departmental services and sites. A pandemic presents a unique challenge because its global spread threatens the workforce as well as the goods and components, across the overall product value stream.”

Responses will vary from company to company depending on the specific challenges they face and their position within the market, but the organizational response to a threat such as that posed by the coronavirus can broadly be divided into five steps.

#1 Resolve

This first step forces the organization to evaluate and address the immediate challenges the pandemic represents to its workforce, customers, and business partners. It sees a company establish a nerve center that will steer the business while serving as an information hub that can manage risk, manage response, and ensure all stakeholders are aligned to a single goal.

#2 Resilience

Step two involves looking outside your organizational structure to deduce which virus-related shutdowns and economic knock-on effects have the potential to harm your business. You should focus on both short-term cash-management challenges and broader resiliency issues.

#3 Return/ Recovery

While the previous two steps focus on how an organization should react during a crisis such as the one presented by the coronavirus, in step three, we move onto discussions on how a brand should go about recovering once the threat has passed its climax. This becomes easier to plan for as the crisis evolves and the knock-on effects become clearer.

#4 Revolution

Now that the crisis is starting to fade in the rear-view mirror and business has returned to some semblance of normality, the time has come to look back and see what lessons can be learned. The coronavirus pandemic is not likely to be the last time the world faces this kind of threat. If lessons aren’t learned and businesses fail to evolve, they are likely to meet the same challenges next time around.

#5 Reformation

This final step again moves outside of a single organization and looks to establish a new environment of regulation and competition which takes the lessons learned from the crisis and uses them to establish new levels of best practice across the entire industry. Once these have been established, they need to be communicated to all stakeholders, both internally and externally.

Final Thoughts

The coronavirus situation is rapidly evolving and it’s hard to tell what the future will bring. While taking things a day at a time may seem like an appropriate response, businesses must be a little more forward-thinking than that.

“As we face our latest pandemic threat, the need to have a well-defined and tested plan in place cannot be overemphasized,” concludes Chatterjee. “Beyond state and national preparedness plans, organizations should be actively evaluating their continuity plans, especially when it comes to strategic contract service providers and partners, to ensure there is a reasonable mitigation plan in place.”

Strategy in this new environment is certain to be a hot topic at Future Pharma 2020, being held in September at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf, Boston, MA.

Please download the agenda today for more information and insights.

Return to Blog