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Articles & Insights Apr 21 2020

In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, we invited Julie Allison, Director of HSER Programs and Systems with Crestwood Midstream Partners LP to share insights on how her company is continuing operations during this unprecedented time. This blog entry highlights the interview on a podcast series entitled PandemicBuzz launched by Witt O’Brien’s Devin Sirmenis, Managing Director Corporate Resilience.


Building on Essential Plans

Having robust crisis management and business continuity plans is crucial for organizations that must continue operations during the pandemic. An up-to-date crisis management plan includes the following:

  • A process to guide senior leader analysis on the possible impacts of an event.
  • A protocol that allows the crisis leader to establish a strategy which conveys what success looks like after the crisis – how the company wants to be remembered
  • Provides senior leaders define workstreams and activities for functional teams to action to resolve aspects of the crisis.

Business continuity planning and enactment creates a common understanding of what the critical business processes are, shapes business continuity strategies, such as shifting capacity to other offices or working from home and allows the company to keep up with changing conditions. Starting with well-constructed plans enables a company to make quick adaptations to procedures and guidelines to better support their operations and their employees.

Island-life, with Care Packages

When most of your staff work in the office, you should not invoke a work-from-home business continuity strategy without considering what they will need to be successful to do their job while working from home. So, while employees are on their respective island practicing social distancing, you should work with the IT department to provide necessary staff training on how to use company telework tools to create confidence across your workforce that will generate efficiency. Behind the scenes, stand up daily calls where management can identify, share and address any issues raised by staff and use these calls to communicate the solutions.

Contractor Management

When you have many contractors who must still come on-site to support your ‘essential business’, be certain to implement simple solutions that will keep everyone safe. Set up your contractor management system so that ‘safety orientations’ can be viewed by contractors prior to arriving on-site instead of having everyone congregate in the office. Utilize remote ‘sign-ins’ instead of the traditional book that sits with reception. Think through and identify physical choke points for foot traffic in your building and utilize signage to direct the flow of people.

Keeping up with What’s Happening

Companies must stay current with the ever-changing regulations and updates surrounding COVID-19. Along with local and national news, dedicated webinars and podcasts by industry- wide organizations and third-party partner forums offer you additional ways to learn and share COVID-19 updates. These channels also present a medium to ask questions and receive diverse perspectives to learn how peers in your industry are responding and keeping operations going.


We look forward to the opportunity to guide our clients. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your company’s approach to managing this crisis, need support to do so, and/or if you would like to brainstorm next steps.

Devin Sirmenis

Devin Sirmenis is a risk and crisis specialist focused on corporate resilience and has served clients for 20 years as a trusted advisor. Devin works with executive leadership at Fortune 500 firms to assess and develop their crisis management programs, train crisis leaders, and stress test the ability to manage an enterprise threatening crisis through simulations.

Prior to joining Witt O'Brien's he led consultant programs at Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton and Perot Systems Government Services. Devin pairs his years of client experience with continuing education and has completed Harvard Kennedy School's Crisis Leadership Program, and holds a Change Management Advanced Practitioner certification from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.


Please listen to all of our PandemicBuzz episodes on one of your favorite platforms:

Apple Podcasts