Department of Human Services

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Business Planning Toolkit

COVID-19 Readiness Planning Toolkit

DHS has developed a Toolkit for NGOs to help them prepare their organisations to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and support them in continuing to provide their services.

This toolkit is intended to help NGOs build resilience and find key information as the situation continues to change.

It provides practical guidance for NGOs across the following areas:

  • Decision-making
  • Workforce
  • Service delivery
  • Finances

If you have suggestions for additional content or resources, please email us.

Covid-19 Readiness Planning Toolkit for NGOs (PPTX 927.0 KB)

Introduction

Introduction

The current COVID-19 pandemic affects all of us in our professional and personal lives. The South Australian Department of Human Services (DHS) is very aware of the importance of the many and varied non-government organisations (NGOs) that provide important services to our community and the challenges we collectively now face, probably for several months.

This toolkit is intended to help all South Australian NGOs, to build resilience and know where to go for information as the situation continues to change.

This toolkit provides practical guidance for NGOs across the following areas critical to your success:

  • Decision- making
  • Workforce (including workforce health and wellbeing)
  • Service delivery
  • Finances

As well as providing additional, useful information, this Toolkit is a central place to house various templates and useful documents relating to COVID-19 that we believe you will need to refer to now and in the coming weeks and months.

This situation is evolving and your particular issue/circumstance may not be covered currently - we will continue to update this document throughout the duration of the pandemic.

Whilst this Toolkit provides guidance, it does not replace your existing policies or DHS policies and framework for consultations.

We also believe that in the current circumstances, we need to recognise the importance of strengthening partnerships between NGOs to sustain services and mitigate potential capacity and resource challenges. For many of us, the way that we work and service delivery considerations have changed dramatically in a very short period of time and this toolkit may help facilitate the identification of potential formal and informal sharing of resources and partnerships.

NGOs are encouraged to use and contribute to the resources in the toolkit.

We have included communication channels for you to communicate with us and we encourage collaboration and development and sharing of experiences and solutions to improve everyone's ability to continue delivering essential services to our communities.

Common issues that many organisations are facing from COVID-19

Decision-making

Allowing for rapid decision-making to ensure business continuity.

Workforce

Protecting the wellbeing and welfare of the workforce whilst managing employee sick and carer's leave.

Service delivery

Reduction and cessation of critical services affecting customers, workforce and suppliers.

Finances

Maintaining long term business viability through challenges to cash flow, payroll and accounts payable.

Governance and compliance

Governance and compliance

This page provides a checklist of activities and considerations over a “do now”, “do next” and “do as needed” basis across the four key areas of focus listed in the introduction.

It also provides a range of links to useful State and Federal Government information sources and applicable DHS and other South Australian Government Department policies and procedures.

Considerations

Items in orange you should “do now”, items in yellow, “do next” and items in green should be done as needed and applicable

Pandemic Planning

Do now

  • Agree to your organisation’s priorities, document them and ensure all of the management team understands them.
  • Review your existing business continuity plans (if they exist) for weaknesses and unidentified impacts specific to COVID-19 (supply chain, staff availability, customer demand). Consider likely trigger points for decision-making.
  • If you need to develop a pandemic policy or plan, a simple template developed specifically for not-for-profit organisations can be found from the Institute of Community Directors Australia
  • Establish a response team with clear roles, accountabilities and objectives to manage your pandemic planning and response.
  • Establish and agree processes for pandemic related decision making with your management team and Board and agree on critical milestones. Refer to the Decision Log template (DOCX 91.9 KB).
  • KPMG have a useful Crisis Management Meeting Agenda, and other templates within their Managing Critical Moments Workbook (PDF 346 KB)
  • Agree on approach to communications to staff and stakeholders - and feedback loops. Balance transparency and preparedness with not wanting to appear to be overreacting.
  • Keep a detailed record of all decisions. Refer to the Decision Log template (DOCX 91.9 KB).

Do next

  • Appoint functional workstreams and owners, and align activity with response objectives.
  • Confirm critical stakeholders and suppliers and agree communication strategies for them.
  • Verify that technology infrastructure can support alternative means of working for both corporate functions and service delivery.
  • Review supplier service availability and resilience.
  • Consider the need to expand delegations for various types of authority (where required).
  • Consider how staff will be paid under various scenarios (i.e. where payroll functions cannot be performed remotely).

Do as needed

  • Use trusted sources of information to monitor the spread of the pandemic, compliance requirements and emerging clusters of cases, ensuring staff and clients are also aware of these trusted sources. It may be beneficial to allocate a single person to be responsible for monitoring these sources.
  • Consider conducting simulations of various contingency scenarios to ‘stress test’ continuity plans (using for example,” best case” and “worst case” options for income / expenditure) and assess impact on associated services, support processes, controls and cash flows.
  • Adapt policies and procedures as required and ensure they remain up-to-date, accurate, relevant and accessible.
  • Consider explicit staff succession planning and upskilling / training for key roles (in case people become ill or have to care for an ill person) while maintaining compliance with quality and regulatory requirements
  • Ensure alignment of activities with your organisations reputation, purpose and values (e.g. supporting the wider community response).

Cyber Security and information risk management

Do now

  • Be aware that organisations are often at their most vulnerable to cyber security threats such as phishing emails (e.g. selling hand sanitisers and masks etc.) when dealing with a crisis that dominates their attention.
  • If, for example, you have moved to staff working from home, perhaps using their own ICT equipment, you must realise that new channels for cyber-attacks have opened up. This increases the risk of client and employee personal information being compromised. Please refer to Understanding OAIC guidance on privacy issued on COVID-19.
  • It is critical therefore that staff are vigilant and that IT monitoring continues unabated.

Do next

  • If any changes are made to the way that your work, review your information security / document management policies and update as required.
  • ICT security requirements for SA Government agencies (including supporting guidelines and templates) can be used as a source of good practice and can be found at the DPC Cyber Security web page.
  • Practice sound information risk management by
    • reviewing and updating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on the management of client and employee personal records.
    • ensuring knowledge and skills are distributed across geographically dispersed people / offices.

Do as needed

  • The application of security and information risk policies should be monitored and enforced.
  • Practice sound knowledge management:
    • ensure effective data gathering and sharing processes are in place
    • manage critical information through a vital records analysis.

Contractual arrangements

Do now

  • Review funding agreements / arrangements to determine if flexibility exists (for example, NDIS Plans, contractual arrangements with DHS etc.). Contact your contract manager to discuss terms.

Do next

  • Consider that some contractual agreements may require amendments and / or authorisations outside of usual contractual terms and begin to put in place measures to accommodate these.
  • For disability service providers:
    • Understand how and where there may be flexibility in NDIS plans to allow for altered services and service delivery.
    • Understand any directives or advice from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) regarding plan reviews or renewals.
    • Understand your obligations under your terms of registration and the Code of Conduct, including to provide continuity of services.
    • Understand your obligation to inform the Quality and Safeguards Commission in relation to changes in your capacity to provide services as well as reportable incidents.
  • Consider any changes to subcontractor or supplier arrangements that need to be negotiated and communicated.

Do as needed

  • Monitor ongoing compliance with confirmed requirements.

Legislative and regulatory compliance

Do now

Do next

  • Understand the potential impacts of any changes made to your staffing / working practices on the legislative and regulatory requirements for your organisation.
  • Identify areas where changes to arrangements will make it difficult for you to comply and raise that with the appropriate regulatory body proactively.

Do as needed

  • Maintain communications with relevant regulatory authorities
  • Monitor ongoing compliance with confirmed requirements.
  • Adapt policies and procedures as required and ensure they remain up-to-date, accurate, relevant and accessible.
  • Ensure compliance with any insurance policy disclosure requirements.

Insurances

Do now

N/A

Do next

  • Understand the scope and any potential limitations in insurance coverage for staff, operations, assets and Directors. Talk with your insurance broker about the impact of COVID-19 and any business changes so that the business’ insurance best reflects the current operating environment and any areas of new exposure.

Do as needed

  • Ensure compliance with any response / disclosure requirements in your insurance policies

Decision-making

Do now

  • Review decision-making hierarchy and meeting rhythm to ensure it supports making well-informed decisions in a timely way.

Do next

N/A

Do as needed

N/A

Monitoring and reporting

Do now

  • Consider establishment of a system to collect Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related data, e.g. case register, and ensure clinicians are aware of data input processes.
  • Document implementation of Coronavirus (COVID-19) response plan to facilitate communication and review processes.

Do next

  • Plan strategies and methods to monitor response and adjust as required, e.g. screening and triage processes, infection control measures, physical layout of clinics/client flow, resource use and stockpiles, clinical management, communication strategies.
  • Plan strategies and methods to capture staff, client and family concerns, feedback.

Do as needed

  • Develop a process by which to assess the impact of a Coronavirus (COVID-19) response on the service so that any lessons learned can inform future planning.

Commonwealth and State Public Authorities

Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) for Critical Infrastructure Resilience

Pandemic planning template: Trusted Information Sharing Network: Pandemic Emergency Management Plan (PDF 231 KB)

Regulatory and professional bodies

Your organisation may need to keep in contact with the following organisations:

ASIC

ASIC has issued advice for companies whose ability to hold scheduled Annual General Meetings and meet financial reporting requirements is temporarily impacted by COVID-19.

Refer to ASIC’s 20-068 Guidelines for meeting upcoming AGM and financial reporting requirements.

Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD)

AICD has issued advice on how Boards should respond to COVID-19.

Pro Bono Australia

Pro Bono Australia has released an article on Five Ways for Your Charity to Stay Ahead of COVID-19.

Community Directors Australia

Free Epidemic / Pandemic Policy template download.

Workforce

Workforce

Considerations

Items in orange you should “do now”, items in yellow, “do next” and items in green should be done as needed and applicable

Employees

Do now

  • Review and understand the Australian Government’s information for employers.
  • Understand what to do if an employee:
    • contracts COVID-19
    • needs to self-isolate, or
    • is at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to direct contact with someone infected and the implications of this on clients and families.
  • Please refer to SA Health for the latest guidance and advice.
  • Consider leave arrangements and identify critical roles. Implement back up personnel to fill critical roles in the event key staff are sick / caring / socially isolated, especially with continued restrictions or impacts on the employment of family members.
  • Consider provisions for staff at increased risk of serious illness (e.g. pregnant women, people who are immunocompromised) during a Coronavirus (COVID-19) response e.g. leave arrangements, alternative duties/work location.
  • Conduct regular check ins with your staff to support their wellness and identify any concerns, including by telephone and / or video for those working remotely.
  • Consider designating a specific staff member to manage rosters, availability and potential risks to staff health and wellbeing.
  • Understand that the uncertainty and anxiety caused by the epidemic may trigger mental health issues and direct staff to your Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) where possible.
  • Facilitate improved hygiene measures and social distancing modifications across all work
  • Understand all travel restrictions and communicate these clearly to all employees.
  • Monitor changing laws and regulations (for example, travel restrictions) affecting your employees. Please refer to the latest advice from the Australian Government.
  • Review and understand the feasibility and available capability and capacity to implement alternative working measures such as working from home or splitting teams across sites.
  • The South Australian Government’s policy on employment conditions under COVID-19 (PDF 467 KB) may provide a useful reference.

Do next

  • Review existing policies and procedures to facilitate safe, secure and flexible work practices across the organisation and, if required, vary them in response to the potential requirements of remote working or other impacts or your pandemic plan.

Do as needed

  • Update, implement and monitor adherence to policies and procedures (such as the Home Visiting Policy) if applicable.
  • Keep employees regularly informed on about the latest updates and guidance whilst encouraging calm and a recognition that operations are likely to continue as long as government guidance is followed.
  • Encourage staff to develop their own family Coronavirus (COVID-19) response plan for care of dependent children and elders in the event of illness or community containment measures (e.g. school closures). Discuss with managers to determine work load impacts and leave options that could be accessed
  • Develop a plan for administration of Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to staff, should one become available, in accordance with state/national guidance (e.g. high priority staff, locations, communication).

Volunteers planning

Do now

In addition to the measures listed for Employees above:

  • Determine which (if any) services depend on volunteers to continue being delivered and decide whether they should continue.
  • Ensure all high-risk (e.g. elderly) volunteers are protected.
  • Ensure all high-risk (e.g. elderly) volunteers are protected.

Do next

  • Ensure that all volunteers receive appropriate and regular communication and ongoing training (if required).

Do as needed

N/A

Training and support

Do now

  • Designate a person to coordinate and maintain records of Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related education and training activities.
  • Provide education and training to all staff on Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related topics such as:
    • Signs and symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) illnesses
    • Hand hygiene
    • Standard precautions, transmission-based precautions (contact, droplet, airborne)
    • Appropriate use of PPE
    • Biohazard waste management
    • Decontamination and cleaning of clinical areas and equipment
    • Quarantine and isolation protocols
    • Notifiable disease reporting

Do next

  • Ensure that all staff are aware of the health service’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) response plan, and perform testing of the plan e.g. through a staff training day using Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related scenarios.
  • Review existing arrangements between supervisors and staff to monitor concerns, expectations and continue relationships. This may also extend to team meetings and revising agenda items.
  • Identify opportunities to provide mental health support to staff and clients.

Do as needed

N/A

Client / customer health and welfare measures

Do now

  • Implement measures to protect customers from exposure and / or infection in accordance with government guidelines.
  • Further to the above, identify:
    • The process for identifying the risk of exposure to a client;
    • The process for seeking medical advice / consultation if a client is suspected to have COVID-19; and
    • The process for ‘contract tracing’ and communicating with family regarding a client who may have COVID-10.
  • Consider whether the organisation can collaborate and interact with a client of another organisation without breaching privacy laws. Consider whether information can be shared for the sake of contact tracing.
  • Recognise that increased levels of anxiety and uncertainty are anticipated amongst the community and the need for clear communication to vulnerable members of the community.

Do next

  • Determine whether face-to-face services will continue and, if so, in what capacity.
  • Consider the need for increased services, for example, family based violence providers may consider it necessary to conduct additional check-ins to ensure the safety and welfare of their clients.
  • Understand the risks around having clients access the broader health system as opposed to self-isolation (particularly in the disability sector).

Do as needed

  • Ensure that all clients receive appropriate and regular communication.

Relevant policies and procedures: Workforce

Service delivery

Service delivery

Considerations

Items in orange you should “do now”, items in yellow, “do next” and items in green should be done as needed and applicable

The priority for service delivery is to ensure that essential services continue to be delivered as far as possible.

Planning considerations

Do now

Analysis / Assessment

  • Determine reasonable worst-case scenarios to inform planning assumptions.
  • Identify the risks to your organisation through a scenario planning exercise for each of the relevant scenarios.
  • Assess critical versus non-critical services.
    • Identify essential services that must continue.
    • Confirm the services that should / must stop.
  • Identify key staff required for essential and non-essential service delivery.
  • Identify potential points of failure - for example, key person dependencies.
  • Identify mitigating plans.

Scenario planning example template (DOCX 92.3 KB).

Do next

Immediate responses

  • Keep your people and working environments safe - invest as needed  to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for employees continuing to work and deliver services.
  • Provide clear guidance and regular communications to all stakeholders.
  • Ensure essential functions continue to be provided (where possible).
  • Review key suppliers service availability and resilience.
  • Brainstorm ways to deliver services in different ways through use of technology or other innovative solutions. Consider how services will differ across regions and sites, especially the impact of poor internet access or staff and clients’ lack of knowledge to use technology. It may be beneficial to nominate a key contact for client IT issues.
  • Remove shared, high-contact items (e.g. toy box, books and magazines) from common areas (e.g. waiting and consultation areas).
  • Explore options for re-scheduling non-urgent appointments such as health checks, screening and routine chronic disease management.

Do as needed

Planning and  Monitoring

  • Engage with  employees to ensure they continue to have a safe working environment and comply with regulatory requirements.
  • Explore opportunities for cross-skilling and upskilling employees to perform critical roles in the event of illness.
  • Explore opportunities with other NGOs providing the same /  similar services  to share resources.
  • Review and update existing contact lists for staff and other healthcare services and ensure it is kept up to date and readily available (electronic and hard copy) e.g. community health services, General Practitioner (GP) clinics, local hospitals and nursing homes, SA Health, pathology service providers, allied health, ambulance, Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), local social and community support groups, pharmacies, funeral service providers.

Additional considerations

  • Have you considered the impact on workers’ productivity either through illness or working from home with families?
  • Have you run contingency/scenario planning for your workforce?
  • Is there a coordinated communications strategy in place to keep people informed?
    • When information is expected from the Government / funders of contracts / DHS, who will receive it, read it and prepare communication to staff and clients?
    • What information is being monitored and by who? For example, National Cabinet, ABC News, health websites etc.
  • Do you know the impacts on service levels from any outsourced/offshore functions?
  • Have you considered business continuity plans at a site by site level?
  • Have you adequately considered how employees will be paid accurately during this period?

Service collaboration and coordination

Next Update –  DHS will provide contact details of Local Partnership Groups to be established across key areas, once they are established.

Who can I talk to if I need advice on service delivery?

Call your contract manager in the first instance. They can escalate your issue if required.

Relevant policies and procedures: Service delivery

Financial viability

Financial viability

Considerations

Items in orange you should “do now”, items in yellow, “do next” and items in green should be done as needed and applicable.

Considerations

Do now

  • Regularly monitor up-to-date information from the South Australian Government.
  • Understand and review all measures available to small and medium businesses, small traders and households under the Australian Government’s measures:
    • Small or medium businesses with reduced cash flow
    • Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
    • Australian Government measures to assist economic recovery
    • Cash flow assistance for business
  • Sole traders who have lost business
  • Review up-to-date information from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
  • All NGOs should carefully consider their financial position throughout this pandemic including cash flow and liquidity management
  • The basic purpose of doing this forecasting is to identify circumstances when cash outflows may exceed cash inflows and therefore to anticipate the need for a remedial action ahead of time.
  • Grant funded organisations can rely on their grant funding to continue as expected. If you require any relaxation of the rules on what the funds can be spent on, please contact your funding contact immediately.
  • Based on the result of your scenario planning (refer section 3 above), your short, medium and long term funding income and/or expenses  may be impacted.
  • We recommend that you perform a detailed rolling cash flow forecast to understand how each scenario may affect your financial position.
  • We have provided a simple weekly forecast template as well as a more comprehensive monthly cash flow template.
    Cash flow forecast example - weekly (XLSX 600.7 KB)

    Cash flow forecast example - monthly (XLSX 19.5 KB)

Do next

  • If your income is negatively impacted, you need to consider:
    • the re-prioritisation of spending and financial obligations
    • what opportunities are there to accelerate cash collection/generation.
    • Identify potential triggers for urgent action (e.g. liquidity issues) - monitor these frequently and carefully.
  • Consider the need to factor additional costs (e.g. employee entitlements) into the cash flow forecasting if you need to restructure your operations.
  • Review any cost changes such as additional cleaning services or locations during this time.

Do as needed

  • Consider how your organisation is thinking about:
    • the degree of confidence in understanding how the impending cash flow risks will impact the organisation
    • The reliability of the ongoing cash flow forecasts
    • For organisations receiving grants, the various trigger points that exist within existing financial arrangements, for example any “financial covenants” or other terms in existing contractual arrangements relating to finance.
    • How declining earnings affect the value of assets on the balance sheet and how this impacts any  financing arrangements you may have in place.

Additional considerations

  • Do you have an accurate understanding of your working capital (i.e. current assets minus the current liabilities) needs and timing of payments?
  • Have you stress tested your cash flows (by applying a range of assumptions to each scenario) and do you understand how much cash you need and for how long?
  • Do you have capability and capacity to support and rapidly assess changing forecast scenarios?
  • Have you identified costs that can be eliminated / reduced and have plans on how to execute on these?
  • Have you assessed the impact of the pandemic on your clients and their ability to pay?
  • Have you re-assessed any financing / covenant compliance requirements?
  • When do your current banking facilities expire (where applicable) and have you considered your ability to access new credit?
  • What is the impact of revised forecasts on your financial statements /asset impairment / going concern requirements?

Relevant policies, procedures and further information: Financial viability

Communication

Communication

Virtual communication and collaboration is vital to ensuring business continuity.

The following are examples of free applications that enable one on one video calls with colleagues or clients:

  • Skype
  • Messenger
  • Viber
  • Apple facetime

The following are examples of free applications that enable conference video calls with multiple colleagues or clients:

  • Microsoft Teams
  • Zoom (limit of 45 mins for free version)
  • Google Hangouts
  • Lifesize
  • Skype for Business

Simple instructions for how to use these applications are available online.

If your organisation needs IT support to transition your workforce to remote or home based working, speak to your contract manager. There may be scope within your existing service agreements to draw on unexpended funding to improve your IT infrastructure.

Key contacts

Key contacts

Key Contacts at DHS

Relevant phone numbers

Publications already in circulation:

Other Commonwealth and State Public Authorities

Templates

Templates

Scenario Planning

The most practical way of identifying the risks that may impact on your organisation is to conduct (and regularly review and update) a scenario planning exercise.

Planning scenarios

We believe the most likely scenarios arising from the current pandemic are listed below:

  • Loss of workforce (including volunteers) either through illness, enforced or voluntary self-isolation or caring for family members;
  • Loss of premises (either from closure of facilities that you use to provide services or your offices);
  • Loss of key suppliers; and
  • Services becoming too risky to provide or are prohibited from being provided in their current form (under pandemic conditions).

How to use the scenario planning template

Understanding the impact of the pandemic on your organisation’s operations is critically important. This will be an iterative process as the pandemic evolves over time. To do this, your organisation should conduct scenario planning for the four scenarios listed above and regularly reviewed and updated. When completing the scenario planning template:

  • Work with all stakeholders to identify the most critical services and supporting processes across your organisation based on customer need, cost implications and reputational risk of downtime
  • Identify key staff involved in critical decision making
  • Consider the workforce, technology, reputation, financials and service impacts
  • Prioritise each service and supporting resources to determine maximum allowable outage / service disruption time
  • Link the BIA to any existing risk frameworks or crisis management plans your organisation may have.

Scenario Planning (DOCX 92.3 KB)

Business Community Management Plan

Business Continuity Management Plan (DOCX 94.2 KB)

Cashflow Forecast

Cash Flow Forecast – Monthly (XLSX 19.5 KB)

Cash Flow Forecast – Weekly (XLSX 600.7 KB)

Decision Log

A critical aspect of good governance, particularly under pandemic conditions, is ensuring there is identification of key decision makers and a mechanism to capture those decisions made, who they were made by, and the outcome(s).

Decision Log (DOCX 91.9 KB)

Action Log

An extension of the decision log, the action log is used to track all key events, allocation of roles and responsibilities, tasks, communications and decisions made by your organisation whilst responding to the business impacts of the pandemic.

Action Log (DOCX 91.8 KB)

Loss of Suppliers

COVID-19 is impacting the supply chain of organisations as the outbreak continues to spread. Factories and businesses are experiencing extended shutdowns, employees are not able to return to work and airlines are suspending or cancelling services. Production disruptions in one organisation create adverse effects in others and your organisation may struggle to find alternatives.

Your organisation can take a range of measures to protect itself:

Identify critical products and suppliers, for example, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Once identified, determine how reliant each supplier is on the affected areas.

Contingency planning

What are the options to re-address the balance of supply and demand? Is buffer stock or a safe alternative supplier available? What is the impact on medium-term strategy?

Communicate

Supply chain disruption may cause unintended reputational damage. Develop a clear strategy for transparent communication with customers, external stakeholders and employees.

Conduct scenario planning

Careful planning is required to navigate the wider implications of supply chain disruptions. Please refer to the Scenario Planning template.

Additional considerations

Access to PPE

If your workforce is unable to obtain PPE, this will impact home visits and visits to other vulnerable members of the community. Those customers may therefore need to attend hospital or would be unprotected during home visits.

Legal obligations

Your organisation will need to consider any potential legal obligations against the organisation in relation to customers / clients raising legal claims in the event they contract COVID-19 during a home visit.

Loss of suppliers (DOCX 93.0 KB)

Page last updated : 25 Feb 2022

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