RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Leaders are prioritizing business resilience and continuity, critical to the future of their organizations, customers, people and communities.
  • This five-pillar framework can inform cross-enterprise business continuity decisions related to risk and impact assessment and contingency planning.
  • Along with identifying potential actions to take across foundational areas, we outline key questions to consider related to continued business operations.


The war in Ukraine continues to have deep human, economic and business impacts, compounding headwinds and protracted challenges that companies were already facing in the aftermath of COVID. Forced to cope with rising inflation, supply chain pressures, skills shortages and shifts in consumer behavior, business leaders are now dealing with the unprecedented scale, scope and impact of the crisis brought about by the war. Continued volatility is set to frame a new business landscape.



Growing uncertainty about inflation, price pressures and the economy are weighing on consumer sentiment.1 With rising energy prices, households expect to spend more on utility bills and petrol (gasoline), leading companies to consider the tradeoff in purchase decisions that consumers are faced with for certain products and services.2 As of March 2022, inflation reached 8.5% in the United States, 7.0% in the United Kingdom and 7.4% in the eurozone.3 Rising interest rates coupled with a recent decline in global goods production persist in weighing down global markets.4 And even before the war, 70% of CEOs indicated they expected to experience inflation in 2022, with associated impacts to profitability anticipated due to rising costs and wages and the ability to attract and retain employees due to wage inflation.5

The impact of the war will continue to take on many different forms, creating widespread ramifications for the way the world thinks, lives and operates so business must adapt, as its ability to navigate crisis both now and in the future has never been more important.

Leaders are re-thinking business resilience and continuity, seeing these two elements as critical to the future of their organizations, customers, people and communities.

A five-pillar framework

As leaders seek to understand immediate and potential future risks to their business, assess impacts across the organization and develop contingency plans, this five-pillar framework can help inform cross-enterprise decisions around business continuity. It spans foundational aspects of the business, beginning with the most critical consideration, an organization’s people.

  1. The people that power the organization
  2. The overarching strategy of the organization and how it differentiates the company
  3. The systems that underpin operations, both internally and with customers
  4. The supply chain and operational network that allow the company to fulfill customer needs.
  5. The partner and customer ecosystem and its alignment to business goals.

Before identifying the potential actions to take aligned to these five pillars, leaders should also ask themselves three key questions outlined below when planning for business continuity.

Scenarios to consider in their impact on operations

In thinking about how the ongoing war in Ukraine and resulting broader volatility may affect operations, there are a range of potential scenarios, which can be grouped into three categories:

Controlled impact

  • Commodity prices return to pre-war levels; over time commodity prices shift and potential inflationary results appear.
  • Consumer and business confidence increases, and companies and people return to pre-war investment plans and spending.

Ongoing impact

  • The supply of key commodities remains disrupted throughout 2022. Some countries continue to face oil and gas embargoes.
  • Commodity supply shocks lead to a sustained rise in prices in the near term.
  • Consumers cut back on some non-essentials and businesses focus on improving operational efficiency.

Protracted impact

  • A wider oil and gas embargo leads to significant structural supply disruption, particularly in Europe.
  • Commodity prices remain elevated and volatile into 2023.
  • Sustained price increases reduce consumer spending power, contributing to a significant decline in consumer and business confidence as well as a slowdown in growth.
  • In the case of protracted impact, there is increased risk of recession and possible stagflation in certain markets.

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Business planning starts with asking the right questions

When planning for business continuity in the current environment, leaders should initially consider three key questions, exploring their different dimensions as they relate to continued business operations:

Although most businesses have already made the short-term decision around whether to continue or discontinue operations, some of these decisions continue to evolve. McDonald’s for example initially announced in March it would temporarily close its locations in Russia; more recently, the company announced a permanent exit from the country and the sale of its Russian business.6 Likewise, Starbucks announced on May 23 that it will exit the Russian market and wind down operations there.7 And because many companies with operations in Russia have suspended operations rather than completely exiting the market,8 mid- and long-term decisions on this issue will likely continue. The key to success going forward is being prepared to evaluate future scenarios through a consistent business continuity framework.

Economic factors to consider:

  • Almost 1,000 companies have halted or curtailed Russian operations.9 Some shut down quickly in the days immediately following the invasion, while others face higher costs due to the intricacy of operations.
  • The Russian central bank hiked interest rates to 20% in the immediate aftermath of the invasion; it later cut interest rates on April 8 to 17%, and further reduced the rate to 14% as of the end of April.10
  • Collectively, sanctioned Russian banks account for ~80% of assets in Russia’s banking system.11 In early May, moves toward additional proposed sanctions were announced by the European Union12 and the United States.13

Key questions to ask when assessing the impact of this decision:

  • Is this temporary or a permanent divestment? If permanent, how do you manage the purchase transaction?
  • How will this affect operating margins?
  • How will you ensure safety for your people in the area? How will they get paid? How will this affect your people operations globally?
  • For publicly traded companies, how much stock is held by entities or individuals in Russia?
  • What are legal requirements (visa) to enable relocation?
  • What policies do you need to put in place to support family relocation?

The severity of downstream impact may depend on the duration of the war. Understanding how this affects businesses—even ones that aren’t located in the region of conflict—is critical for business continuity.

Economic factors to consider:

  • Depending on the severity and duration of supply disruption, energy price shocks could add 0.7-2.2% to the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI).14
  • To help reduce the impacts, companies should plan for a tougher six-month business environment due to increasing inflation, weakening consumer sentiment and higher levels of geopolitical uncertainty.
  • Europe faces greater risk of growth contraction due to stronger trade links with Russia and heavier reliance on Russian energy imports.15

Key questions to ask when assessing the impact of this decision:

  • How have you built risk management capabilities into your business-as-usual processes? Do they cover business continuity, cybersecurity, third party, financial crime, and environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) risks?
  • Where it is possible to manage your energy sources, are you actively reducing your energy dependence or diversifying sources?
  • Are you diversifying your sources of raw material supplies?
  • Will your business take an active role in helping people affected? Are you willing to serve customers who are unable to pay you?
  • Are you affected by de-globalization and do you understand the impact on your business?
  • What is your strategy to keep operating successfully under increasingly inflationary conditions?

Economic factors to consider:

  • In the current environment resulting from the Ukraine invasion, the main factor is the potential for significant disruptions to energy supplies, given Russia’s role as the second-largest gas producer globally and third-largest oil producer.16
  • A prolonged period of higher energy prices could weigh on nearly every industry, as many material inputs are influenced by energy prices throughout the production process.
  • Companies should understand their pricing power, elasticity of demand and availability of substitutes. This may determine how they treat high input costs.

Key questions to ask when assessing the impact of this decision:

  • Have you assessed your pricing power? How will you adjust your pricing strategy to address inflation?
  • Are your investment choices affecting your social profile or customer loyalty?
  • Could your competitors become collaborators to strengthen your organization?
  • What are the downstream financial impacts across the organization, short and long term?
  • How have your customer base, demand and the markets you serve shifted due to the crisis?

Potential actions to take aligned to the five pillars

Although more than 80% of leaders say they have updated business continuity plans, the complexity of today’s landscape and the current crises stemming from the war in Ukraine are emerging more rapidly than ever before, with implications for both operational and financial risks.17 The following framework can help inform cross-enterprise decisions around business continuity. It spans five foundational pillars of the business, starting with the most important area for leaders to address: their people.

How to begin business continuity planning and activation

Start with an understanding of how critical your timelines are. There may be two paths to consider, depending on your level of exposure.

Rapid response

A rapid response approach deals with the immediacy of the situation—this might include reinforcing your company’s near-term solvency, operational capability, supplier management or human resources management.

Business continuity

A business continuity approach is preventative and provides visibility into and understanding of the exposure of potential geopolitical risk and mitigation efforts, depending on scenario. This effort serves to “steady the ship” and support your company’s longer-term viability, in areas from brand image to financial impact. It involves activities such as stabilizing assets, confirming people capabilities and engaging in longer-term financial activities with suppliers, investors, etc.

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Determining which path to take which will require input from a variety of sources as well as insights around exposure and mitigation, including:

The use of objective data which is critical to making analytically driven and accurate decisions. Learning to use your data now can help prepare to assess business continuity issues in the future.

The inclusion of subjective data from across the company, including internal or customer interviews. Subjective data can enhance and validate the general picture that objective data initially creates.

A detailed assessment of your exposure along the five pillars. This can help you quickly focus to shore up the business where needed.

Mitigation and scenario planning which will solve for the problems identified and help the business continue to operate despite the challenges.

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A multifaceted strategic approach allows for a holistic view of your largest areas of threat.

Future shocks will require ongoing efforts

Companies now find themselves in a world with persistent levels of disruption, increasing inflationary pressures and the specter of further uncertainty. This changes what “business as usual” looks like. Business continuity planning is no longer a discrete, point-in-time exercise but rather requires ongoing and integrated efforts across the enterprise, from people to strategy to the ecosystem at large.

Contributors: Gregg Couch, Ryan Mathias, Hajir Sailors, Chris Tomsovic

Disclaimer

The material in this document reflects information available at the point in time at which this document was prepared as indicated by the date provided on the front page, however the global situation is rapidly evolving and the position may change. This content is provided for general information purposes only, does not take into account the reader’s specific circumstances, and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information in this document and for any acts or omissions made based on such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel or other licensed professionals. Accenture and its logo are registered trademarks of Accenture.

Copyright © 2022 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture and its logo are registered trademarks of Accenture.

1 University of Michigan consumer survey (April 2022): Economic Sentiment and Employment Expectations further down in the EU and the euro area, European Commission (2022).

2Global growth is slowing, but not stopping—yet,” The Economist (May 2022).

3 Accenture, How business can survive and thrive through high inflation, May 2022 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, UK Office of National Statistics, Eurostat; data surveys as of March 2022)

4 JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI, IHS Markit (May 2022).

5 Accenture global survey of 3,200 C Suite executives, data collected June-July 2021 and December 2021-January 2022,

6 McDonald’s name to vanish from Russia,” CBS News (May 2022).

7 Starbucks to exit Russia after nearly 15 years,” Reuters (May 2022), Starbucks news website, Update to Starbucks partners on our business in Russia (May 23, 2022)

8 “Almost 1,000 companies have curtailed operations in Russia, but some remain,” Yale School of Management (2022) and Accenture assessment of corporate websites and press releases.

9 “Almost 1,000 companies have curtailed operations in Russia, but some remain,” Yale School of Management (2022).

10 “Russia lowers key rate sharply to 14%, eyes more cuts,” Reuters (2022).

11 U.S. Treasury announces unprecedented and expansive sanctions, U.S. Treasury announcement (2022).

12 “Sixth EU sanctions package vs Russia is close, Germany says,” Reuters (2022).

13 “U.S. unveils additional sanctions targeting Russian media, financing and elites,” MSN (2022).

14 Accenture Research: Russia-Ukraine Macro Economic Impact and Industry Analysis, April 2022.

15 Ibid

16 Statistical review of world energy, BP (2022).

17 Accenture, Global risk management study, 2021.

18 “Needs Growing for Over 8 Million Internally Displaced in Ukraine”, UN International Organization for Migration (May 10, 2022).

19How many Ukrainians have fled their homes and where have they gone?”, BBC News (2022).

20 Accenture global survey of 3,200 C Suite executives, data collected June-July 2021 and December 2021-January 2022,

21 Ibid

22 Accenture, Elevating the cybersecurity discussion, 2022 and Accenture, State of cybersecurity resilience, 2021.

23 Ibid

24 Ibid

25 Accenture, From disruption to reinvention: The future of supply chains in Europe, 2022; Accenture Research analysis of Oxford Economics data.

26 Accenture, From disruption to reinvention: The future of supply chains in Europe, 2022; Oxford Economics Global Economic Model results for scenarios designed by Accenture Research.

27 Accenture, Global risk management study, 2021.

28 Accenture, Fast-track to future-ready performance, 2021.

Rachel Barton

Senior Managing Director – Accenture Strategy Lead, Europe


Chris Roark

Senior Managing Director – Accenture Strategy Lead, North America


Aneel Delawalla

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, CFO & Enterprise Value

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