COVID-19 Strategy: Update March 8th
COVID-19 Strategy: Update March 8th
8th March, 2020
Senior management in Options has spoken to many members of the executive teams in our customers and other Global financial sector firms since my last update on March 2nd. Generally the firms we’ve spoken to are confident in their own “core” BCP strategies, but there are growing fears about the strategies of their outsource partners. For example, most premier outsourcers have contingency should a full physical office get shut down. However, as a sector they’re scrambling to mitigate the risk that the team in that office is all placed into self quarantine. Many call centres in China have been shut down for six weeks at this point so it is a very real possibility that one of the huge global outsourcing centres, for example Mumbai, could see a shut down spanning all the companies based in that region. This fear is reflected in the share prices of some of the largest outsourcers, which have plummeted to multi-year lows.
Our customers have been very complimentary about our proactive approach to managing COVID-19 crisis risk, rigorous approach to BCP testing and transparency. They view us as a critical enabler of their broader strategy. We will all face many challenges in the months ahead. Our mission is to make sure infrastructure stability isn’t one of them.
Following on from our first update we’ve successfully completed the (“Business Continuity Planning” – “Working From Home”) BCP-WFH test plan outlined. We’ve a number of further large scale tests scheduled this coming week. That said we are confident that we’ve taken the measures required to ensure we can run our global infrastructure seamlessly in a situation where all engineering and help desk staff globally work from home for a protracted period.
Completed last week:
– Successfully completed London office BCP-WFH test on Wednesday March 4th;
– Successfully completed Belfast office BCP-WFH test on Thursday March 5th;
– Successfully completed New York office BCP-WFH test on Friday March 6th.
Planned for next week:
– Auckland office BCP-WFH test;
– Full Europe/US BCP-WFH (London, Belfast and New York offices);
– Roll out best practice remote collaboration infrastructure across all Options teams globally.
We are confident that we have rigorously exercised our BCP strategy and can run the global infrastructure as normal with the team working from home.
In particular, it is worth highlighting that Options runs a fully in-sourced staffing model, so when we talk about a full BCP-WFH test that means that we were able to operate all functions of the business as normal with the team working from home. This includes the engineering team, but also the global help desk, technical account management teams, project delivery, finance, etc.
– We’ve given all staff with underlying health issues the option to work from home until further notice;
– All weekend engineering and support shifts will be carried out from home until further notice;
– We’ve offered to reimburse staff who cancel foreign holidays over the coming months to help further reduce non-business travel across the team;
– We’ve ordered 100 Randox COVID-19 test kits with a view to testing staff following International travel, or concerned staff and partners who work in high risk roles in the health service, etc.
Overall reflecting on the last week, the main issue highlighted in the large scale BCP-WFH were productivity issues due to lack of large monitors. We’ve placed orders in the UK and US and arranged for staff now working remotely indefinitely to bring their office desktop monitors home. Otherwise the platform operated without incident with all key components running at a fraction of capacity so we’ve no concerns there.
The positive (and there is always a positive) is that the large scale tests have forced a step change in our use of collaboration tools, in particular around the Microsoft O365 platform, which is pretty amazing, it has to be said. A number of our larger teams are highly distributed in nature and very sophisticated O365 tool users. We’ve asked them to produce a few case studies and guides to share with customers facing similar challenges.
Finally we should highlight that aside from the international travel ban, as of today all other general business activities, onsite client visits, and the like are continuing as usual. We have a number of staff working permanently in client offices. Where onsite is concerned we are taking our lead from each client on a case by case basis.
The focus of our efforts to date has been to ensure that we can operate the global infrastructure seamlessly should the situation deteriorate over the coming weeks.
– Danny Moore, President & CEO