Not all business continuity planning is about catastrophes
A look at the key issues facing business in the special Jubilee and Olympic year of 2012.
“Business continuity comprises of people, planning and processes to ensure that business can continue to function in the event of an operational disruption”
So what does that mean?
Well, there are too many likely causes of an operational disruption to list here, but they can be internally focussed, e.g. IT failure, building fire, flood damage, or external events, e.g. severe weather, transport disruption, civil disruption, a pandemic or even an act of terrorism.
Role of the Business Continuity Manager
The primary responsibility of the Business Continuity Manager (BCM) is to ensure that suitable recovery strategies and appropriate Business Continuity plans are developed and maintained for each department in the organisation, to minimise operational disruption and ensure that critical functions can continue.
At Standard Chartered Bank, the Business Continuity, Security and Health & Safety teams work closely together in the Corporate Real Estate Risk function. As a group the teams benefit from sharing information, best practices and a joint approach to risk mitigation in contingency planning and emergency response, to achieve the primary objectives in line with the Bank’s Crisis Management Strategy:
- Ensure the health, safety, security and welfare of staff, and, where appropriate customers.
- Control the immediate and developing situation whilst continuing operations with minimum disruption.
- Restore the business to normality as quickly as possible, minimising loss or damage and maintaining business confidence / reputation.
- Maintain effective communications internally, with customers, the media and regulatory bodies.
- Comply with regulatory requirements.
The Risk function teams, together with Facilities and Technology Management also form the Bank’s Incident Management Team, which responds to all incidents and emergencies.
Crisis and Incident Management Plans
To protect the Bank from perceived threats, there are well-established Crisis and Incident Management plans in place developed by the BCM in line with Bank policy. These are written at Country level to manage local issues and at Group level to manage issues that may have an impact on the business globally. The Crisis Management Team (CMT), made up of key Business Heads, meets in the event of a crisis and the Risk teams provide it with specialist advice and guidance.
The BCM is the conduit between the Crisis and Incident Management teams, cascading information and instructions based on the decisions made, and ensures that all actions taken during and after a crisis are recorded, and accurate logs of the incident are filed.
London 2012 Olympics
Aside from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations no-one can be in any doubt that two of the major events taking place in the UK will be the Olympic and Paralympic Games!
The Bank is engaging fully with the various Olympic planning bodies.
At this point in the Bank’s Business Continuity Planning, the BCM is using advice from these sources to reduce the impact of the predicted travel disruption for staff travelling to and from the office. The Bank is also working with its suppliers to ensure that deliveries of essential supplies and removal of waste from its buildings can continue as seamlessly as possible during the Games. Not all business continuity planning is about catastrophes, the background support functions that business areas may take for granted can often cause the most disruption if neglected!
Security considerations are also a priority given the higher than usual number of people expected to visit the UK, especially in central London and adjacent boroughs.
Cross-Sector Safety and Security Communications (CSSC)
CSSC has been established specifically for the Games. Its objective is to gather and disseminate timely, accurate and up-to-date information which will be critical for informed decision-making by businesses. The group has already been meeting on a monthly basis, and meetings will increase gradually to at least daily whilst the Games are in progress. The Bank’s UK Security team receives the information through its membership of the Sister Banks Group, made up of leading financial institutions, and shares the information with its Risk partners.
The Bank’s Olympics planning for staff started to take shape in earnest in 2011. An Olympics ‘task force’ was formed, comprising representatives from the CEO’s office, Corporate Affairs, IT and the BCM, to coordinate communications to staff and to facilitate key decision making.
One of the task force’s early actions was to send a survey to staff, to learn about their usual travelling times and routes into and from the office, and whether they were planning to take annual leave during the Games period. The results have shown that a large percentage of staff use the routes already identified as the ‘hot spots’ at peak times during the Games, and that a relatively small percentage plan to take at least a few days leave. As a consequence and to minimise disruption to the business, staff are being asked to plan their arrival and departure from the office to avoid the predicted peak times and look at alternative routes avoiding congested stations wherever possible. The Bank is also promoting ‘agile’ working practices, enabling many staff to work from home or alternative locations.
A special Olympics page has been set up for staff on the Bank’s Intranet, with useful internal information as well as links to the main Games websites, such as www.london2012.com and www.getaheadofthegames.com to ensure that staff remain fully appraised with the most reliable and up-to-date information available. Internal communications to staff will also increase as the Games days draw closer.
The Sister Banks Olympics Sub-committee Working Group has produced a video to be released 100 days before the start of the Games, containing sound practical advice for City workers on how to maintain ‘Business as Usual’ during the period.
Other ways in which Security and Business Continuity work closely together can be demonstrated by how potential risks arising from public demonstrations are managed.
The teams make recommendations to the CMT on actions to be taken to preserve the Crisis Management strategy, and appropriate action is then taken. Depending on the planned route for a march, staff may be advised to leave the office early, dress in casual clothing, or work from home where possible.
Whenever severe weather is predicted, the BCM checks weather forecasts and liaises with the CMT, which is likely to recommend that staff work from home on the affected days where possible, with hotel accommodation arranged for critical staff who must work in the office.
Eyes and Ears on the ground
The Security team is the ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground for the BCM, particularly outside of normal working hours and at weekends.
As an example, on many occasions the BCM has called the Security Control room, which operates 24/7, before 5am to check whether it’s snowing in the City, in case a communication has to be sent out to staff!
In summary, the work of the Risk teams is always varied and never dull. With such a strong partnership, the teams can confidently assure their stakeholders that they will always be acting on the best information available.
‘Here for good’
Standard Chartered Bank