COVID-19 has now officially been declared a Pandemic by the World Health Organisation and a public health emergency, impacting people’s lives, businesses and the wider economy.
With governments implementing detailed plans to delay the further spread globally, the effect that Coronavirus will have on businesses is still unpredictable. So far, we have seen the British government itself scrutinised for not taking a more urgent response in taking measures in minimising the impact. However, businesses need to move swiftly in order to ensure continuous operation along with the safety of staff.
The FCA has already outlined in their statement on COVID-19, that they “expect all firms to have contingency plans in place to deal with major events. Alongside the Bank we are actively reviewing the contingency plans of a wide range of firms. This includes assessments of operational risks, the ability of firms to continue to operate effectively and the steps firms are taking to serve and support their customers”. They also confirmed that assessments will take place throughout the UK to ensure that effective contingency plans are in place to guarantee business continuity.
Although we can not predict what effect Coronavirus will have on the economy, it’s clear that for businesses to successfully weather the storm, effective operational resilience planning should be top of the agenda.
One of FourthLine’s own business continuity professionals working within the financial sector, emphasizes that “businesses must identify critical services and activities and then map out these dependencies to prioritise which solutions they need to build should they face business disruption”.
Avoiding disruption to systems is central to operational resilience, but it is the business service itself that must be resilient for it to be truly effective.
The FCA has instructed firms to
- Identify their important business services that if disrupted could cause harm to consumers or market integrity.
- Identify and document the people, processes, technology, facilities and information that support a firm’s important business services.
- Set impact tolerances for each important business service.
- Test their ability to remain within their impact tolerances through a range of severe but plausible disruption scenarios.
- Conduct lessons learned exercises to identify, prioritise and invest in their ability to respond and recover from disruptions as effectively as possible.
- Develop internal and external communication plans for when important business services are disrupted.
- Create a self-assessment document.
As we’re seeing more and more businesses implement a “work from home” policy and recruitment efforts slowing down in the face of disruption, it’s important for firms to consider not only their contingency planning but also making sure that they are bringing the right talent in to guide them through this period.
We are here to support businesses throughout their operational development, providing oversight expertise from top-tier business continuity professionals, as well as providing you with learning or consulting solutions that suit your business needs.