Business continuity planning in the COVID-19 era, reflections

Business continuity planning in the COVID-19 era, reflections

In a challenging time for the world, the BCC programme sponsored a web-workshop on business continuity planning in the light of the COVID-19 outbreak where representatives from associated central banks met to explore solutions and share experiences in light of the pandemic.

The workshop gave participants the opportunity to share their experiences on strategies and practices related to the impacts of the pandemic on daily operations and to discuss resulting transitory and permanent changes.

During the webinar from December 2 to 4 2020 group members discussed the theme with the help of two moderators, one specialist with experience with central banks and another one from the private sector.

The conference started with an overall view of the pandemics and the importance of a well designed crisis management framework. Participants then were separated in groups for discussions on several themes. After the debate a member of the group shared their thoughts and experiences with all participants.

On the first day of the conference two topics were explored. The first was the aspect of teleworking and its related subjects of home-office experiences, cybersecurity threats, legal and administrative implications of this new environment and staff motivation and efficiency in a situation with less strict internal controls. The focus was on sharing which procedures and practices worked and what needed more studies or even an overhaul.

The second topic covered how to handle a simultaneous crisis event. Usually business continuity planning is designed to handle a single source of disruption and all strategies to handle the situation are planned within this framework. However, due to the long timespan of the pandemic, it is possible, or even likely, that another adverse event, such a natural event (fire, earthquake etc) can happen simultaneously. In light of this problem participants discussed their thoughts on challenges and opportunities related with their plans and resources likely available.

On the second day of the conference participants first discussed occupational safety and health at the workplace where participants discussed about office preparation procedures, control and prevention of the disease, standards followed by the institutions involved and how alerts were sent to employees. Participants then discussed governance and strategy. This topic generated a lot of experience sharing on roles and responsibilities, situational awareness, impact on operational risk assessment and use of risk information, business continuity planning and culture and finally lessons learnt in this new pandemic experience.

The last day was dedicated to a broader view of the problem. Participants were presented with detailed information on the pandemics, vaccines and technology involved, expected evolutions of the situation and how to handle impacts on mental health and other aspects of human behavior.

The conference was successful and saw intense participation of members who actively shared their experiences. Each central bank came back with some new thoughts and a review or reassuring of their practices on the demanding situation we live today.