Insurance Products Provider
A leading UK provider of insurance policies and related products over the phone and online who have a fully implemented BCM programme in place, but require independent validation of plans and strategies annually to meet best practice and regulatory requirements. Teed has been engaged on an annual basis since 2009 to help design, facilitate and report on business continuity exercises for the response teams.
The organisation has expanded rapidly since business continuity plans were first developed, now numbering around 700 staff in a number of regional offices in London and the south east. As a result both the crisis management and business recovery teams have grown and taken on new members.
Our client was keen that both teams should take part in simultaneous exercises enabling them to consider the same scenario, but from their own perspectives. It was important that the scenario was sufficiently challenging to ensure teams could fully appreciate the difficulties and issues that arise from dealing with a complex incident.
As the teams comprised nearly 20 people each, it was not practical to involve everyone working alongside one another, so there were the added logistical issues that had to be considered in the design of the exercises. Also to be factored in was the setting up and use of a new emergency command centre, which all team members were unfamiliar with.
Fundamental to the successful outcome of an exercise is ensuring that appropriate and achievable objectives are set. Therefore, through discussion with the client, a number of objectives were defined for the exercises including:
- Test invocation, leadership and incident management
- Raise awareness of roles and responsibilities
of response teams
- Identify any gaps in business continuity plans
and recovery strategies
To meet these objectives, separate exercises were designed and facilitated for each team over two days. At the first, the CMT was asked to respond to the immediate implications of the evolving scenario as described to them and to provide sufficient direction for the BRT to enable them to recover business critical activities, during the subsequent exercise.
Teed also provided a brief incident management awareness session for the CMT introducing them to the concept of information management wallboards which help to record and assimilate the details, facts, assumptions, etc., of an incident as it occurs. This process has been well received by many of Teed’s clients who recognise the added benefits in being able to manage an incident more effectively by evaluating information in a structured manner.
To help raise awareness of business continuity planning and their incident roles and responsibilities, the BRT took part in a series of break-out sessions at appropriate points in the exercise. Divided into teams, each considered a group of questions designed to explore particular issues of incident management. This helped with the overall consideration of the impacts of the incident and how they could best respond. Each team demonstrated a clear understanding of individual department plans, roles and responsibilities which were used effectively to keep impacts within acceptable levels.
Teed’s skilled facilitation and design ensured that, although a “marathon” event, the two-day exercise proved successful in meeting the client’s overall objectives. Both teams commented on the benefit of the exercises in helping them to gain a better understanding of managing an incident to greatest effect, thus ensuring continuity of critical customer services whilst keeping staff welfare as a priority at all times.
Following the event, Teed provided the client with an independent evaluation of the exercise together with comprehensive notes taken throughout the two days, including feedback from the participants provided during the post-exercise review discussion and separate feedback forms. A number of issues were identified together with actions for the client to take forward as appropriate.
As in previous years, Teed provided a business continuity preparedness rating for the client as a result of the exercise for which the score was once again in the “High – well prepared” category.
The client was pleased with the outcome of the exercise and the recognition that plans and strategies should prove effective in the event of an incident, although some improvements were identified. A forthcoming business impact analysis refresh will ensure these are addressed and allow additional strategies to be put in place to help reduce the overall risk exposure.