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Human Aspects of Business Continuity Planning

A new threat is emerging - and it is one with a modest risk of occurrence but a potentially dramatic impact. That impact may not disrupt an entire business or an entire building. It may, however, disable a mission critical business process.

This new threat is a consequence of the changes in economic outlook facing most businesses. In recent months, cost-saving programmes in many organisations have led to head-count reductions. In many instances, organisations will have been working to create a viable cost structure with an emphasis on sustaining core business processes.

Where skill sets are highly specialised, managers may have been faced with a limited set of options to achieve the required cost base. One example is the skills required to carry out the routine tasks of managing an in-house SWIFT environment. Changes, if not properly managed and controlled, can impact the integrity and delivery of SWIFTNet operations.

Organisations must now ensure that they adopt one of two approaches:

  • Carry the cost of employing sufficient competent people to ensure that each mission critical process remains reliable and resilient in the face of the inevitable disruptions associated with illness and holidays.
  • Take a strategic approach to outsourcing in processes where that option exists and use the consequent savings to fund cross training and human continuity planning in processes where no such option is available.

In order to plan effectively, management must conduct their business continuity risk assessment in parallel with a skills audit and a succession plan. Once this exercise is complete, they will be in a position to plan any required changes to business and technology processes.

Strategic Outsourcing

Outsourcing can be an emotive subject, especially when considering information security or employment issues. Working with highly specialised service providers on the strategic outsourcing of limited elements of the technology landscape can make good sense - from a number of perspectives, including:

  • Cost
  • Resilience
  • Security

Due Diligence

It is imperative that the team responsible for reviewing the provision of strategic outsourcing services place an emphasis on objective validation of the main parameters. With cost, for example, there may be a cost saving - if the team find a specialist in the provision of particular services with a transparent, no hidden extras, pricing policy. When it comes to resilience, the team must ensure that they deal with service providers who already have resilience engineered into their technology and human infrastructures. Security issues may need some thought - depending on the available network infrastructures and the monitoring and control processes implemented by service providers.

Strategic Outsourcing to specialist providers can be an excellent means of improving resilience in mission critical applications. SWIFT Service Bureaux are good examples of organisations with a firm grasp of the requirements of secure messaging. The best SWIFT Service Bureaux have already built human and technological resilience into their offerings and are able to help organisations save money whilst making a real improvement to the pragmatic elements of their business continuity plan.

Paul Fileman

Synergy Financial Systems Ltd.


Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 08 May, 2009, 16:58Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Three further points that I wanted to add:

  1. As a matter of interest, how many of those reading my post have run a DR test in the last 2 months and congratulated  themselves on a good result?
  2. Are there any elements of your DR provision that rely on one or two people in your team who have specialist skills?
  3. Is it my imagination, or has the media gone quiet on Swine Flu this week?


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