Page 5: Business continuity – Eurostar implementation
The company has organised itself so that it has a business continuity department that will lead the process and set the scene. It is implementing a recognised business continuity model.However, one critical and distinctly important point is that responsibility for delivery is very firmly ‘in the line’ (the responsibility of departmental line managers).
Each department has therefore nominated a business continuity representative (champion). The champions are responsible for:
- assessing the business impact: what are the mission critical aspects, processes and equipment within each department and for how long can business be sustained without them?
- assessing the risk of undesired events
- identifying who has the responsibility for ensuring that all actions required are being carried out
- considering whether further actions could mitigate risk even further
- coordinating business continuity within their departments
- investigating failures
- spreading the word/briefing and training within their departments.
The business and service continuity department provides assistance through nominating its staff to individual departments. This enables a watchful eye to be kept on the whole process so that interfaces are coordinated where something could ‘fall through the gap’ between departments.
Training for risk
To ensure its staff are well trained to deal with events when they do go wrong, Eurostar has a full programme of exercises that allow them to experience what it will be like if a ‘disaster’ occurs. This programme includes major exercises on site (Eurostar carried out evacuation exercises in the Channel Tunnel recently in partnership with Eurotunnel and the Emergency Services) through to table top discussions where each participant informs others about what they would do at particular moments. Eurostar also carried out exercises using various locations in its offices as pretend ‘operational locations’ and playing out different scenarios.
To train staff in various emergency scenarios, Eurostar is about to commence the construction of a tunnel evacuation training simulator. This will allow staff to be better prepared in case something goes wrong.
Many companies operate different levels of business continuity management ranging from zero preparation through to a bespoke department such as Eurostar has adopted. It is interesting therefore to compare notes and to learn from best practice. Eurostar management visited airlines, airports and other institutions/ organisations to learn from them and in some cases were able to provide them with some ideas.
Reviewing levels of risk
Eurostar has a major objective that insists the company has looked carefully at the risks to its continuity. In any similar management process, the maxim of plan/do/review is important. This process forms an endless circle. It is important to understand whether the risks are still current and whether any new ones have appeared.
Therefore Eurostar reviews the risk matrix in its entirety every 6 months and adapts it according to the results. It has also developed an audit based on the requirements of the business continuity British standard. By turning the standard’s requirements into questions, Eurostar has been able to see where it satisfies the standard. Just as importantly it can understand where it does not meet it and can take action to rectify this.
Following the saying that ‘you cannot control what you cannot measure’ Eurostar has quantified the audit. Departments will score more points for the more important aspects of business continuity and targets for the overall score have been set. Another spin off of such a process is the ability to point out to each department where they can take action to achieve higher scores and to be able to prioritise, i.e. more important actions attract higher scores.
Through regular review of the risk matrix and audit results Eurostar can say with confidence that it knows what can go wrong and has taken action to prevent it. It has also carefully considered what it will do if any disruption to the business does occur.