Expect the unexpected: How to prepare for business continuity

Whether it is geopolitical challenges, social unrest, weather storms, major events or the current global pandemic, it is clear that disruption has become the new norm. Traditional Business Continuity Plans (BCP) are often created for major disruption, and lack the flexibility needed to support the varying degrees of daily disruption. These include travel, sickness, protests and rafts of other unforeseen events that can impact an employee's ability to get to work.

For businesses to maintain continuity, they need to move beyond traditional BCP thinking and focus on providing the right tools, technology and culture to enable workers to remain productive whatever the disruption.

For financial institutions, security, data sovereignty, industry governance and regulation provide additional challenges when thinking about continuity at either macro or micro levels. This is compounded by the scale, heritage and complexity of finance organisations and the heightened threat landscape in which they operate.

At Citrix we believe financial services institutions can deliver the highest levels of continuity when they combine a traditional, well-assessed, macro-level disruption BCP with an approach that also enables employees to work continuously during micro-level disruption. An approach that enables employees to work from anywhere, at any time, with the necessary data and information to complete their work. To achieve this there are two core areas that businesses must consider.

Organisation culture

While organisational culture is defined by the sum of many parts, it primarily refers to an organisation's social order and how it sets its guidelines for expected work practices. In financial institutions these working practices often centre on physical presence, and the notion that people work best in an office. The problem with this approach is that it provides no safeguard against disruptions that affect an employee's ability to attend the office, nor for hardware failure. Therefore financial organisations need to shift their culture to one that is outcome-based, where individuals are measured on their productivity irrespective of where they are working from.

Cultural change needs to be initiated by senior leaders in the organisation, who must define targets and gather a range of quantitative measures to assess. It is important that they lead from the front and demonstrate that working from anywhere is acceptable within the organisation.

Tools and technology

An effective BCP relies on the provision of suitable tools and technology for all staff. An easy trap is to extend existing in-office tools to be usable outside  the office, but security constraints, user experience challenges, operational and support models have always made it difficult to achieve this at scale.

When considering the tools and technology that people need in order for them to be able to work from anywhere, it is important to consider the following:

  • Consistent user experience is key, regardless of location or device.
  • Transparent security should be inherent but contextual and avoid inhibiting user experience, while still satisfying governance and regulation.
  • Technology availability is a key part of making sure people can continue to work, even during technological failure.
  • Collaboration tools can enable projects to be shared, but they should also nurture the growth of working relationships.

In the finance sector security is obviously of paramount importance, but equally so is operational resilience. As we embrace these uncertain times, the financial sector needs to be reviewing its workplace culture and ensuring it has the right tools and technologies in place to enable truly flexible working, whatever the scenario.

 

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