POST COVID - Operationalise your plan for success

Written by Jennifer Kelly, Managing Director StrategyBox

As companies across the globe start getting back to business, they are all in the same boat, as they plan the return to some kind of normality. Some businesses have stayed moving during this time and had their employees working from home, while others had to, unfortunately, shut their doors and wait it out. All businesses have the same thing in common, they will have to plan ahead, perhaps pivot or shift their business into a new direction and think about how their businesses will operate now in this "New Normal".

I have put this blog together, based on my own past experience as a Business Strategy and Planning professional to give you some things to think about while you undergo this plan.

Firstly, I know some people think planning is a waste of time and want to jump straight to step Z and get stuck into operations and get results. During my time, throughout my career, I have been operational and supply chain planning, business planning, strategizing, project planning, and I have learned that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. But to make your plan work, you need to operationalize it.

Here are some of my thoughts on the matter of Business Planning that you could use to get you started.

Use your Lessons Learned

At the very beginning of this crisis, some businesses that I have spoken to didn’t have a plan to hand as they did not expect that a COVID situation would ever occur. They scrambled all the available information they had and came up with a flexible plan to enable a remote workforce and try and keep the business going as best as they could. Well, this is all valuable information. This is what you would call a “Lesson Learned” in the project world. Think back through all the information that you gathered. List out what worked and what didn’t work and what you would do differently. This can be used for your go-forward plan.


Read the guidelines and the vast amount of information provided by the Government

The government has been publishing information to assist businesses through the crisis and post-crisis. Read it thoroughly, even if you do not think it is relevant to you. There are grants and financial aids available for all types of businesses. Government LINK

Enterprise Ireland is also a fantastic support system for businesses trading internationally. Don't forget to contact your local representative, to see if you can avail of any of these supports. 

Review your business plan and make sure whatever changes you make, link back to your financial plan.

The business plan that you created with your team for 2020, needs to be reviewed. There could be some strategies that you have devised that are no longer viable as the business needs to pivot or change some of the tactics. Pull your management team together to go through the top-level plan, to understand what needs to change. The current financial plan for 2020 should be reviewed in tandem and a forecasted closing 2020 plan, to project the outcome for the year. This should highlight areas that need to be prioritized.

Business plans should be adaptable. Just make sure that your financial planning process is in sync with this. The 2020 budget would have been signed off with your board members. It is important that the changes that you create, have a business case, and can be easily articulated to management with good financial sense including your cash flow projections. Ensure the financial plan is updated to reflect the new plan plus any contingencies that you need to include.

Set your business governance to identify your Key Priority Projects

From your business plan, select the key priority projects that require your management time. These are the critical projects that need to keep your business afloat. A daily (on initiation) or a weekly governance structure should be put in place to monitor the progression of these key priorities. The meetings that host them, should be quick and effective meetings, understanding what actions occurred on the project, and what support or help is required to keep it moving forward is critical.


Use your data to measure and manage

In one of my earlier blogs, I wrote about why smart leaders use Data for operational excellence.  Tracking your data, so you can ensure, your business KPIs including your employee and Customer KPIs are trending in the right direction is vital for success. Using your time wisely and setting up data visualizations, rather than, weeding your way through excel spreadsheets. Your IT department may be able to do this for you or an external consultant can do the task and would be money well spent.


Create a Business Continuity team

Creating a Business Continuity Team that can give and show leadership in this time of uncertainty is vital. This team would enable the plan to work as they would be focused on making decisions and allocating people within their teams to carry out the work involved with keeping the business moving. http://



Fear can be spread through a lack of communication. Transparency breeds trust. Believe in your team, they will understand the circumstances and feel empowered if you explain what needs to happen and why.

Encourage rather than intimidate

COVID is a very intimidating time. With all the rules and procedures that are being implemented across the business internally for safety reasons, we must not forget that our customers and our teams are human. Let us not make this more difficult than it is by the way we behave when we are around people.

Stay Safe and if you need any help or advice let me know. http://