SME Business Continuity Plan: Digitalisation | OCBC Business Banking SG
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Building Resilience For A Post Covid-19 Future

Building Resilience For A Post Covid-19 Future

  • 23 June 2020
  • By OCBC Business Banking
  • 3 mins read

Singapore introduced its circuit breaker with little notice on April 7th — which lasted one month longer than initially expected, till June 2nd.

All non-essential workplaces were closed. It caused a hectic flurry as businesses scrambled to adapt, enable their employees to work from home and prevent a total loss of income — especially for the most affected retail and F&B industries.

But finally, the circuit breaker is over. We asked some business owners how they handled it, what learnings they had, and what they are doing to prepare for the future.

A (forced) move towards digitalisation

ContactOne Professional Services, a corporate administrative services provider, was one company that had to make significant changes. It had to buy new laptops, mobile phones, and other IT products for its employees to work from home — a necessary but unforseen expense to cope with what lay ahead.

“We are not considered an essential service, but our clients still needed to perform compliance filing to ACRA and IRAS, so we had to keep going to assist our clients,” the company founder Tony Koh explained.

And it’s just as well they adopted new, digitalised ways of working with the use of digital signatories, tele-conferencing and contactless payment. “You might say COVID-19 has been a driver for us to fast-forward what we eventually will need to do in the future,” Mr Koh said.

A time to regroup and plan

Using the Circuit Breaker time to fine-tune their businesses was a common move by business owners.

Damien Chia, founder of Life Architech Pte Ltd, made a swift shift to move all his company’s resources online. To practice social distancing, he maximized telecommunication and remote access to data where possible.

Once that was done, he used the opportunity to regroup and improve its processes for the future. “I took the chance to sharpen our tools, spending energy and time on tightening our SOPs, and worked to build a stronger team,” he said.

Business’ takeaways for the future

COVID has definitely changed how we work today — and how we will continue working in the future. More importantly, it has highlighted the need for business owners to be ever ready to deal with unexpected events in order to ensure business continuity.

For all businesses, critical functions include being able to access documents remotely and the ability to make and receive payments. “All staff should also be well-equipped to operate remotely at any point of time, even after the pandemic,” said Mr Chia.

For this reason, online collaboration tools such as Google G Suite have become increasingly popular and the use of Corporate PayNow is on the rise.

It is also crucial that business owners plan for obligations mandated by law, such as paying employees on time. These can be automated with the use of online payroll apps such as Xero or QuickBooks.

Should the need ever arise again, businesses must be certain they can easily flip the switch on their business continuity plan — an essential for all businesses regardless of size, according to Mr Koh.

“A business continuity plan enables a company to react better and faster to unforeseen circumstances, and allows it to continue its operations,” he said.

If businesses haven’t already done so and are not sure where to start, he advises to:

  • Identify key business areas and critical functions
  • Determine the dependencies between various business areas and functions and the acceptable downtime for each critical function
  • Send employees for courses and training regularly to integrate them with the latest technologies

You’re not alone

SMEs are not alone in this transition to digital and online processes. The government is providing much support to speed up the digital transformation of SMEs.

From the Start Digital programme, to the E-Commerce Booster Package, and Digital Resilience Bonus, SMEs might be overwhelmed by what is available and which digital solutions to get. This is where OCBC’s team of Startup Specialists comes in - simply contact us to request a discussion with us and we will be glad to help.

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OUR PANEL OF EXPERTS

Tony Koh — Co-Founder
ContactOne Professional Services

Tony Koh — Co-Founder
ContactOne Professional Services

Tony Koh (ACS) is the co-founder of ContactOne Professional Services and is a Chartered Secretary with over 10 years of experience in areas of business formation, corporate secretarial, accounting and tax.

Damien Chia — Founder
Life Architech Pte Ltd

Damien Chia — Founder
Life Architech Pte Ltd

Being in a fast-paced metropolitan country like Singapore led Damien to realize the importance of health. This inspired him to create the Hao Yi Kang brand in 2016 to introduce convenient-to-use and tasty health products to those who value time and quality. Bringing the brand to Malaysia is the next stop on his roadmap.