How to bolster your operational resilience and business continuity plan

     

    The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge test of operational resilience.

    No business sector has been left unaffected by the outbreak, and for those who do not have a business continuity plan in place, the impact has been huge. If you don’t have a business continuity plan or if your existing one needs updating, now is the time to do it - so read on to find out how to bolster your operational resilience and discover how our specialist financial recruitment services can help you to protect your business throughout the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

    The impact of COVID-19
    As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the international stock markets have experienced the worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. 79% of board members state that their organisations are not well prepared to deal with a crisis event, and according to a survey by the Fintech Fincrime Exchange, only 29% of companies with a business continuity plan included pandemic as one of the scenarios. As a result, a staggering 94% of the Fortune 1000 are seeing coronavirus supply chain disruptions, whilst the coronavirus has already shut down more than a quarter of UK businesses - and more than half a million UK companies are thought to be in significant distress.

    Business continuity best practice
    According to the Financial Conduct Authority, all firms should have a contingency plan in place to deal with major events and these plans should have been tested. Essentially, the message from the FCA is that despite these challenging times, companies should still maintain appropriate measures to ensure business continuity and regulatory compliance. A comprehensive business continuity plan provides a roadmap for continuance and/or the restoration of mission-critical functions during and after a disaster; however, there are distinct differences between traditional business continuity planning and pandemic planning.

    How to plan for a pandemic
    Pandemic planning presents a number of unique challenges. Unlike natural or technical disasters, the impact of a pandemic is much more difficult to determine because of the difference in scale and duration. As a result, pandemic plans should be flexible and effectively address a wide range of possible effects that could result from a pandemic. With that in mind, important questions to ask yourself include:

    • Does your firm have sufficient technology to support remote working over a prolonged period of time?
    • Can you effectively manage security and privacy requirements?
    • Can you deliver transformations and changes in a controlled and efficient manner?
    • How can you promote employee and client health and safety?
    • How can you maintain engagement with the workforce?
    • What business resources should be prioritised when it comes to resource allocation?
    • Will your current contingency arrangement last the expected lifetime of the pandemic?
    • And will it expose your firm to any other potential issues?

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    How to bolster resilience
    In times such as these, your business continuity plan should be a live document that is regularly updated according to what is going on. It’s about managing the immediate resilience challenges faced by the firm so that you can continue to maintain operational resilience. Key things to think about and plan for include:

    • How long your firm can operate under significant stress before becoming vulnerable
    • Which important business services could expose your business to risk or cause harm if disrupted
    • Setting impact tolerances for each important business service
    • Mapping the people, processes, technology, facilities and information that support important services
    • Testing your firm’s ability to remain within its impact tolerances through a range of disruption scenarios
    • Ensuring you have the necessary technology and culture to enable a remote workforce
    • Conducting lessons and exercises to identify, prioritise and invest in your employees’ ability to respond and to recover as quickly as possible
    • Developing internal and external communication plans for when services are disrupted
    • Creating a self-assessment document for ongoing improvement

    Planning for the future
    Your business continuity plan should also address the step-by-step process of recovering and reinstating business operations to a pre-disaster state. This includes assessing the damage, estimating recovery costs, working with insurers and monitoring the progress of the recovery process. Even when firefighting and navigating challenging times, by keeping a record of where stresses have emerged and what has helped or hindered the maintenance of key services, companies can improve their business models. This way, lessons can be learnt from any disruptions to ensure improved resilience in the future.

    Why you should hire a business continuity specialist
    There are a number of skills and specific experience needed to competently and efficiently set up a business continuity plan, especially in the face of a pandemic, so it makes sense to use specialist financial recruitment services to find an expert. From risk assessment to crisis management experience, project management and interpersonal skills to flexibility and adaptability, a business continuity specialist will have honed their skills over the years, and they will also have a deep understanding of the relevant regulatory requirements too.

    When it comes to business continuity, if you want to ensure your programme doesn’t have any gaps that could lead to losses in the event of a disruption, it’s a good idea to hire an expert to meet your business continuity needs. As a result of the current pandemic, many businesses are turning to business continuity specialists to help them with their operational resilience and risk management. So if you are looking for business continuity specialists on a permanent or contract basis, contact Twenty84 to find out more about our financial recruitment services today.

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