By Jibility Co-Founder Chris Benthien
We usually talk about using the Jibility method and tool for creating roadmaps for business and IT strategies. But it’s a method that can be applied to all sorts of problems, including a corporate response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below is an example response roadmap with over 145 actions and a step-by-step guide, developed by our core team in the first quarter of 2020. We hope that this can serve as a starting point for many other organizations out there who are striving to create, pivot and maintain a strategic plan for their pandemic response.
Disclaimer: we don’t claim to be experts in the area of pandemics. In creating our roadmap, we’ve used official advice from numerous health department publications such as Infectious Disease Emergency Management plans; the latest advice from the World Health Organization; publications such as the Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (OSHA 3990-03 2020), produced by the U.S. Department of Labour, Occupational Health and Safety Administration; and the COVID-19: Guidance for Employers and Businesses published by the UK Public Health Department and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Creating a Corporate Pandemic Response Roadmap
A strategic roadmap for your COVID-19 business response needs to be logical, concise and easily adaptable.
Our aforementioned six-step process is this:
Articulate your key problems, challenges and pain points.
Define the current objectives of your response to the pandemic.
Identify the capabilities you need in order to meet said objectives.
Establish what actions are required to strengthen those capabilities.
Group these actions into initiatives.
Determine the priority and sequence of these initiatives and plot them on the roadmap.
This simple approach ensures that your actions and initiatives are directly linked back to the capabilities you need to put in place and, in turn, the current key challenges you’re facing.
Step 1 – Articulate Your Challenges
COVID-19 and its corresponding impact on the world’s economy and business operations will present a significant number of challenges for your organization.
Apart from the obvious human impact, there may be disruptions to your supply chain, a dramatic and sudden downturn in customer trade, disrupted business operations and greater pressure on cash and other capital reserves. For some organizations, on the other hand, it may represent a significant increase in volume, in particular if you are a health care provider or a supplier of critical material needed to combat COVID-19.
Our example focuses upon businesses needing to handle the impact of COVID-19, rather than first responders.
Where do I start?
Start by articulating the highest priority challenges or problems that your organization is likely to face – but keep it tight and focused. Whilst you may be faced by many challenges, limit yourself to concentrating on 4–6.
Below are 6 of what we believe to be the most likely pandemic-related challenges for organizations.
Step 2 – Define Your Objectives
Next, you need to set clear objectives for your COVID-19 Business Response Strategic Roadmap.
In doing this, be very clear what your COVID-19 response roadmap needs to ensure as outcomes for your business. This is so that all downstream actions and initiatives (and the associated costs and resources) are proportionate to your objectives.
What should my objectives look like?
A few examples of objectives:
- Ensure our people and their families are supported by our organization
- Minimize the disruption of COVID-19 on our business operations
- Ensure we have adequate buffers to survive a 50% reduction in customer trade
The below image shows more example objectives, linking back to the key challenges above.
Step 3 – Identify Required Capabilities
The next step is to define the core capabilities that your organization needs to put in place to deliver against your COVID-19 pandemic response objectives.
In fact, you should make a point of explicitly linking your capabilities to your objectives, to ensure logical prioritization.
What sort of capabilities should I be thinking about?
Capabilities are the bridge between your challenges and objectives and the actions you will take, e.g.:
- Facilities Cleaning
- Remote Working
- Personnel Protection Management
- Staff Counselling Support
You should also consider which capabilities require the most investment or focus, as this assists with further clarifying where you need to channel your efforts.
Below is an example COVID-19 capability map, which has been colour coded (to indicate the degree of change) and linked back to the objectives set in Step 2.
Step 4 – Establish the Actions Needed
Next, establish what actions to take in order to improve or change each of your priority capabilities, as necessary for achieving your objectives. Don’t worry about sequencing and prioritizing yet.
You can also allocate a ballpark or ROM (Rough Order of Magnitude) cost against each action. This will help with prioritization of initiatives and budgeting for the financial impacts of your roadmap on your organization.
The example in Step 5 covers both Actions and Initiatives, so keep on reading.
Step 5 – Group Actions into Initiatives
Once you’ve listed all your actions, group them into executable initiatives.
How do I decide what actions should be grouped together?
The key criteria for grouping actions is that they can be executed as a single initiative; sometimes, related actions need to be delivered at different stages of the roadmap, so keep this in mind.
Logical groupings for actions that can be executed as a single initiative often emerge organically.
Below are the initiatives and corresponding actions that underpin our COVID-19 Business Response Strategic Roadmap.
Step 6 – Prioritize Initiatives and Build the Roadmap
Having carried out the previous 5 steps, you now have a robust grounding for your roadmap.
How should I structure the roadmap?
Start by mapping out the timeline on a simple grid. For column headers, use the stages of response. We have used the WA Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 stages as a basis for our roadmap: Standby, Initial Action, Targeted Action and Stand Down.
In the example, we’ve added Recovery to the Stand Down stage, as the economic impacts of Novel Coronavirus are potentially significant. Actions to get your business back on track may take you some time after the pandemic is over.
For the horizontal axis, break it down into the major themes, e.g.
- Hygiene and sanitation
- Supply chain stabilization
- Governance and decision making
Obviously use whatever themes make most sense for your organization. If you’re still unsure, refer back to your key challenges from Step 1, as these often provide a clue.
How should I approach sequencing my initiatives?
With the roadmap grid set up, plot each initiative in an executable sequence. This is also when you should identify any dependencies between initiatives.
At this point, it’s worth iterating back and forth between your actions, initiatives and the roadmap. It’s highly likely that you’ll spot gaps emerging (e.g. capabilities with insufficient actions) and dependencies arising, while new ideas may also spring to mind.
The completed example of a COVID-19 Business Response Strategic Roadmap is shown below.
Keeping your COVID-19 Strategic Roadmap Current
The best strategic product roadmaps undergo constant change. It’s a sign that feedback loops are alive and that the roadmap is always evolving to deal with the challenges that are currently facing you.
Advice and strategies to deal with COVID-19 will continue to change and so should your roadmap. As new challenges arise or old ones are resolved, or new actions and advice is provided by authorities, you should iterate through the above six steps to ensure your roadmap is current and most effective at minimizing the impacts of COVID-19 and its associated effect on the business climate.
Free Roadmap Tool
The roadmap examples above were created using Jibility, a cloud-based tool specifically designed for building strategic roadmaps.
Jibility is free to use — sign up here.
Speed, Adaptability and Consensus
The method described above is the one around which we’ve structured our strategic roadmap app, Jibility. All of the images were created in the tool too.
Jibility is free for 30 days, so sign up now if you want a quick and simple way to power through the steps above and publish your strategic roadmap.