Organisations in Africa, and in particular financial services institutions, face unique risks all of which lend themselves to developing and cementing business continuity plans to help guard operations in the event of incidents that could threaten operations. 
Recent work with a large financial institution has drawn a number of risk factors to the attention of local ICT services organisation Quintica, that it urges companies to take cognisance of when planning a best practice business continuity plan.
“In Africa companies often have to deal with a single service provider for business services such as telecommunications, water and even power,” states Kerry Evans, MD of Quintica. “There is also the fact that infrastructure isn’t always maintained, we are facing a skills shortage and that there are constantly new compliance regulations being formulated that companies need to adhere to.”
It is against this backdrop that Quintica recently assisted a financial services customer with re-aligning its focus towards developing a secure and effective disaster recovery and business continuity plan. The challenge here was selecting the right technology to assist in supporting this vision, without the traditional constraints of aging technologies.
“After investigating a number of technologies within this space the client settled on a solution from SunGard.
“The tools were able to meet the needs of the business in creating a policy, framework and methodology for business continuity (BC); the implementation of a strategy throughout the group companies; the ability to test business continuity plans (BCP) and disaster recovery plans (DRP); as well as afforded them the opportunity to monitor the programme on an on-going basis,” states Evans.
The critical difference here was that the company saw business continuity and disaster recovery as a normal business process and not as an add on. This in turn meant that managers had to deem it an extension of their operational responsibilities and part of their performance agreements. The ultimate solution that the SunGard tool had to provide included a Living Disaster Recovery Planning System (LDRPS).
The approach taken by the client was to roll out a phased approach over a year that would address the three core areas of people, process and technology. Ownership and accountability of the system rested within the business and ICT process owner level, where key members of the team collaborated with the BCM team to define exacting business needs. These needs were then mapped to the SunGard system.
“Initial rollout of the programme started with awareness and presentations outlining the project requirements and how they would support governance and compliance. While the process was met with challenges these were swiftly overcome through on-going training and information sharing,” adds Evans.
With the implementation of SunGard the company soon became able to take advantage of the customisation capabilities of the system where they could specify what the fields would be displayed on each screen. They no longer needed to perform Business Impact Analysis on separate excel spread-sheets and the planning cycle became paperless and as a result more cost effective.
Reports can now be extracted to reflect plans approved, tested and the completion rate. The deployment of an online learning tool now guides users through the process of building and maintaining plans as well as navigating the system.
They then deployed an SMS system that links to the LDRPS which then delivers information to key personnel in the event of an emergency. The company is able to import 90% of all business information into the system automatically – this includes the automation of information from HR, finance, procurement, IT and vendors.
According to Quintica, the success of the project was as much SunGard software as well as the businesses approach in deploying the solution. Information was shared and people trained by way of Computer Based Training, the Intranet, newsletters, a forum, and an awareness week. The solution wasn’t simply owned by IT and run in the background, but more importantly it was taken on as a business solution.
“The business value derived as a result of the implementation has been substantial. The client was able to achieve its PASA certification and has done so year on year since the implementation of SunGard.
“As per the PASA certification the company can now recover transactions on request from the Reserve Bank in between 90 minutes and six hours. It is also able to achieve and meet all regulatory and compliance requirements, while also having the peace of mind that in the event of incidents its information remains safe and secure,” ends Evans.