For many organisations, now and in the weeks coming Business Continuity Plans are rapidly becoming the new operational plan involving remote work forces functioning over organisational, geographic and technology boundaries. Adding to the challenge is that most Business Continuity Plans are not developed with a view to running in this new mode indefinitely. This means that organisations need to consider what new or extra contingencies should be put into place to sustain the new operating model without interruption.
Often Business Continuity Plans are developed with a top-down view where the organisation is modeled as a tree structure, and the people, activities and resources that need to be maintained are identified, and plans are developed to essentially move some or all of the business from Point A to Point B while maintaining as close to the normal function of business processes.
But can this be sustained in the longer term?
Organisations must now look at their critical business processes with a view to ensuring resilience during a protracted Business Continuity scenario. For example, modern VOIP platforms are extremely flexible, and as we have seen in the last few weeks, it is entirely possible to have a ‘work from home call centre’. An amazing technical achievement, however as a long term solution you are now facing the risk of running your call centre on domestic grade broadband. However, a simple contingency of providing your call centre staff with a backup 4g router builds longer term resilience into your Business Continuity Plan.
Critical processes that require contingencies over and above the BCP can include technical and business challenges such as:
- Ensuring separation of key staff. If the CEO, CFO and COO live in the same suburb should someone temporarily relocate during a pandemic crisis?
- How to provide secondary remote access options for critical users if the primary access method is impacted?
- Ensuring you don’t drop the ball on identification and authentication of customers and staff.
- Maintaining information security with a remote workforce.
- Minimising the risk of a business running mainly on domestic infrastructure.
- Enhancing document signing and distribution processes. What happens when a key player is ill?
- Dealing with legacy print and mail processes (many older platforms can still only print to specific physical printers or spoolers).
Building resilience into your Business Continuity reality will require you to think creatively, identify issues and bottlenecks then apply solutions such Robotic Process Automation, Power Apps to enable mobile devices, Digital Identity and Authorisation, perhaps a 3rd level of infrastructure redundancy, or maybe re-engineering the business process or team structure in order to reduce your long term risk exposure.