How strong governance can help you fight the virus


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There is no escaping the impact of the coronavirus. Cancellations, suspensions and disruption is now taking place across the whole sector.

With ramifications as yet unknown, the Alliance’s Head of Governance, Vijaya Panangipalli takes a look at how strong governance can help your organisation in these uncertain times.

Coronavirus and governance? They are not obviously connected but both force us to future plan our activities. With so much unknown, it is no wonder businesses and sport organisations are struggling to make any long-term decisions.

Here is my view on how governance can help organisations cope with this pandemic. This is an attempt to draw your attention to elements which enable you to prepare for the worst.

First things first, let’s decode the impact of the virus on organisations. Three things come to mind - financial, health and psychological. 

Governance does not have a formula to overcome these scenarios, however with logical planning and taking the right steps, I am confident sport and recreation organisations can fare better than other sectors and industries.

As part of your planning processes, think about:

The VUCA Test

The VUCA test is very helpful for scenario planning. VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, complexity and Ambiguity. Although no one is fully aware of what the ultimate damage this virus can cause, this test helps to make decisions based on the best information available.

A simple way to apply VUCA is to work out each of the elements separately. For example, list out the volatile elements for your business – events, month to month revenue, other disruptions etc.

Determine worst-case scenarios and a plan of action against these. If you cannot come up with one or few actions immediately, then park and review later.

Clarify the uncertainties and plan to mitigate them as best as you can. An example would be Government’s ever-changing response, keeping the offices/premises open etc. Continue planning for complexities and ambiguity.

Business Planning

55% of UK employees have never worked from home or do not have an option to. Make sure your organisation is fully prepared for a lockdown scenario. If you do not have processes in place to allow for your staff to work from home, make this a priority.

The process not only creates flexibility within your workforce but helps with business continuity.  This is the time to tighten up your business continuity plans.


One of the psychological effects of the virus is fear. Fear of the unknown and how long this uncertainty lasts. Communicate with your staff and volunteers effectively.

Whatever decision you take, whether to continue business as normal or to arrange alternative arrangements, your workforce needs to get regular updates.

One scenario planning is to segregate your staff and volunteers to understand who is vulnerable and which groups you can rely on during crisis. This will help you understand how much of your workforce is able to continue working and therefore, your future work planning should be more productive.

Risk Management

Lastly, but one of the most important factors to consider, is the financial impact of this virus.

Your risk management systems should be up to date with this information. Update your risk register as regularly as possible, not at board meetings or quarterly reviews.

I recommend a review every month or as early as your business requires you to. It is important that your board is kept aware of the risks. Risk should be a top agenda item until the uncertainty passes.

In a world full of unknowns, effective governance and planning will go a long way. The best approach is to stay focused and make decisions based on the best available information.

If you have any governance related questions for the Sport and Recreation Alliance team, please email

For additional employer support and guidance relating to Coronavirus, please read this update from our partners at Croner.