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Business Continuity – Online Capabilities

As Australia, New Zealand, and the rest of the world battle with further disruptions in the war against the pandemic, leadership teams can be tempted to push back on training and building programs.

Organisations are forgoing their continuity requirements off the back of so much change like staff attrition and concurrent events and issues. 

To alleviate pressure of having to bring working groups together, in-person, we are using our proven track record of hybrid and virtual support into engaging and interactive programs.

How we conduct Business Impact Assessments

It’s becoming harder to find a business not impacted by the pandemic and concurrent events, so much so, the majority of our client base is requesting a review of how they handled the pandemic or an incident; looking to identify any  gaps and prepare for what may come next.  The process is  called a Business Impact Assessment (BIA).

Historically, a BIA is performed in a few stages. 

  • Information is gathered unique to the client. 
  • Agendas and times are set to interview key members of staff. 
  • Interviews are conducted (face to face or virtual).
  • Our consultants conduct analysis of the data collected.
  • A comprehensive report is shared. 

Today, the overall move to virtual is becoming an advantage to active programs. “One small difference is the ability to share our screens while conducting an interview”, says New South Wales Resilience Specialist Matthew Foreman. He says the simple act of sharing a screen presents a more visual representation of the journey for the client. “They can see why we’re asking what we’re asking and what part of the assessment we need help completing. ”

New South Wales Resilience Manager, Harrison Orr shares a similar experience. “These BIAs are actually becoming more efficient online. [It] allows the client to dial in and out while also having the business continuity representative present if they need to be”. 

Both Harrison and Matthew admitted that gathering so many important people within the response team involved juggling many diaries and often travel requirements. Now, more stakeholders are coming to BIA interviews and adding more insight in a far shorter timeframe. 

The reality of where we are

By making an exercise as close to reality as possible, clients gain two advantages; a fresh and relevant take on the response to a current event, and the mindset to better handle the real-life event.

Victoria and Tasmania Principal Consultant, Joanne Costa says that her team jumps on the opportunity to conduct an exercise as close to reality as possible.  

“Teams have been able to iron out issues in exercise conditions and build confidence and comfort in managing an incident remotely”.  

Given the disruptive nature of the pandemic, most crises are happening during a period of widespread, remote work.  “Having the whole Crisis Management Team in a room together when an event  strikes is unrealistic, in particular for the first phase of a response”, says Joanne.

When building organisational resilience, keeping what’s working now can help maintain buy-in and employee adoption. As a consultancy, we do not necessarily use our own tools during exercises. Doing so would be disruptive and build a false sense of response for the client’s team. 

Joanne adds, “we encourage clients to exercise using the tools and VC platform they would usually utilise. It will ensure readiness of the team even when they can’t be physically present. It’s also an opportunity for the team to rehearse how they will communicate and share information while remote”.

Keeping these elements in mind also helps convert busy senior members who may see our training as low importance within their never-ending meeting blocks. We work on ensuring everyone understands the importance of the session, their responsibilities, and how it will be conducted seamlessly. 

Historically hybrid

Records as far back as 2012 confirm RiskLogic adopting more hybrid, hot-desking scenarios within training exercises and response programs. Co-founders Josh and Dan Shields saw their own offices begin to evolve into a hybrid arrangement.

To reduce overheads and scale almost overnight, many new SAAS enterprises were also adopting remote working. By 2018, many organisations had welcomed the concept of cloud computing which allowed more operations to go remote.

By April 2020, the RiskLogic client base (excluding essential services) had moved to a remote working status. Fortunately, the programs that had been tried and tested over the years were now fully functioning solutions for this disruptive requirement. 

“To be honest, we were conducting 95% of our BIAs and other sessions online anyway. Not a lot has changed”, says New Zealand Senior Manager Andy Wisheart.

Reactions to a virtual partnership

Overall, the client adoption of a virtual partnership has been taken very well. More stakeholder commitment and quick programs are evidence of this.

By utilising online technology, sessions can be recorded. This is being used in onboarding modules, shared with staff that missed important sessions, or even publicly as culture driven incentives.

Our most recent example of this comes from the RiskLogic and Australian Department of Health Emergency and Crisis Management online course. A government backed and funded incentive. 

Over 1100 Aged Care leaders, managers and board members have registered the online program; one of the largest adoptions of Emergency and Crisis Management training in the industry.

However, not everyone is prone to accept such change. “The long-standing organisations we’ve been working with have been familiar with a face-to-face arrangement. Pushing them towards an online relationship comes with its challenges” says Harrison. 

Like other consultants, he admits that clients need to see that capability to continue the same momentum and output as we had in a physical, 1-to-1 environment. “We’re actually rebuilding the trust”. 

“Demonstrating the effectiveness and efficiency has been a priority from day one of the pandemic. Proving  we could take this virtual and continue the resilience journey regardless of the medium we’re on without dropping quality”, says Harrison.

“For nearly twenty years, it’s been consultants travelling around the world, going into thousands of offices and premises. Overnight, we’ve all had to change that. But by remaining innovative and driven, I believe we’ve managed to take that same experience into a virtual setting well”.

Moving a resilience program virtual and achieving the same outcome can seem unrealistic.  Having strong online capabilities is not new for RiskLogic,  proudly our online solutions have been in place for over six years.

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