NZAM: What we learnt from testing our Business Continuity Plan with OutSource IT

 

Having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is an important means of ensuring that business processes can continue in the case of a disaster or emergency.

Consider the impact to your own business if you couldn’t access your building, or if there was a power or internet outage, or a larger scale disaster. Could your business continue to operate with such disruption? What are the critical business functions, and what is the cost to the business for any downtime?

These are some of the questions that NZAM (New Zealand Assets Management) asked themselves.

Having developed a comprehensive BCP for their business, NZAM recognised the value of testing their plans, so they could be sure it was complete and capable of doing the job it’s intended for.

Being in the funds management market, NZAM are subject to FMA (Financial Markets Authority) licence obligations which

include having a robust BCP plan. With a key component of business continuity being accessibility of their valuable data, NZAM chose locally hosted backups where their data is copied to a dedicated storage device in the OutSource IT datacentre right here in Auckland. They also have dedicated hardware stored in a secure location, to allow them to access their backups.

 

As a client of OutSource IT for the last nine years, Executive Director – Simon Tompkins – liked the idea of doing an unannounced business continuity trial, to see how quickly the business could be up and running in the event of possible business disruption.

“One of the prime focuses of testing the BCP is to get the backup site running so we can be on top of any client requirements and any trading that is in progress”


THE TEST

The test began with a simulation of the office being inaccessible, whereby Simon stood at the front door at 7am and advised staff arriving to work that they couldn’t enter the building. To make sure the test was as realistic as possible, even the Head of Operations wasn’t made aware of the trial. It was a good test of whether the staff had actually read the BCP document which has been distributed to all staff, and whether they knew what the contingency plan was.

The Head of Operations, Brad Martin, knew exactly what to do – with their servers hosted in the OutSource datacentre, he was able to log a call with our ServiceDesk and request a hotdesk with thin clients set up for access to his terminal server.

OutSource IT had an engineer available immediately and shortly after the call Brad  arrived at the OutSource IT premises. The engineer quickly activated the remote site part of the BCP; the thin clients were deployed in the boardroom and within 2 hours the core operational programmes were running. This allowed them to access the client data file tree, NZX wealth management system, and of course their emails.

 

THE RESULT

Within 3 hours the thin clients were deployed and server access gained, ensuring minimum downtime (or cost) for the company. In Simon’s opinion, it was a success:

“The two big requirements which are quick communication around the team, and then getting the Apteryx system up and running in the backup site at OutSource IT both worked well.”

And what was the biggest non-IT learning from this exercise, according to Simon?

“The importance of quick and accurate communication between the team”

Testing their BCP plan has allowed NZAM to prove their resilience, which gives credibility to all stakeholders including clients, staff and shareholders. It offers reassurance that the company has the ability to withstand a serious event

 

Simon Tompkins Hot Tip:

“Once you have a BCP plan in place, make sure you test the plan and ensure all staff are very aware of the steps to take, as so much depends on individual staff thinking through their roles and acting accordingly”

 

OutSource IT’s Hot Tip:

“To get the most from your BCP live test and avoid unnecessary risks to the business, define what parts of the plan need to be tested and work closely with your IT partner.”  Carley Nicholson

 

 About NZAM

NZAM is here for investors who want returns that the bank cannot match, while knowing the preservation of their hard-earned capital is a priority, no matter what the market is doing.

NZAM was set up in 1991 because they saw investors caught between the typical fund management approach, which exposed their capital to too much risk, and the bank, which offered more security but lower returns.

They believed in a better way – and they have been proving it for well over two decades.