Marks & Spencer is one of the UK’s leading retailers, with over 21 million people visiting its stores each week. The company offers stylish, high quality, great value clothing and home products, as well as outstanding quality foods, responsibly sourced from around 2,000 suppliers globally.
Its four-strong BC team aims to establish M&S as a market leader in retail BC by embedding a groupwide business continuity management (BCM) culture to fulfil its mission of “protecting people, the brand, property and profit.”
When M&S began its search for a BC provider, it was looking for a company of similar standing that shared its values and matched its international reach. The popular retailer found the qualities it was looking for in Sungard Availability Services and became a customer in 2007.
John Frost, Head of BC, Security and Shrinkage for M&S, remarks, “I genuinely believe our two companies share some of the same DNA when it comes to our principles of customer service, value, innovation and trust, and know I can depend on Sungard to deliver.”
Maintaining key teams at time of disaster and ensuring the continuation of essential production and recovery business processes requires a holistic and integrated solution. To this end, M&S relies on Sungard AS’s Workplace Recovery capabilities throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, its QuickShip service for telephony continuity and network hosting services for connectivity. M&S also aims to automate and streamline its BCM response through the deployment of specialist LDRPS software. This combination of services is designed to keep the Marks & Spencer group up and running, both in the UK and internationally.
Explaining some of the reasons why M&S renewed its initial contract for a further two years in 2010, John Frost says, “Over the years we have been impressed with Sungard infrastructure, the quality of its wide-ranging services and the skill and professionalism of its people at all levels of the organisation.”
A spirit of pragmatism drives the retailer’s BCM programme. Having conducted full business impact analyses across the organisation, M&S has been able to identify recovery priorities based on realistic Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives. These are reflected in plans that are practical, action-driven, business area-specific and easy to maintain.
A robust assurance programme ensures plans are thoroughly tested with an annual exercise involving the Crisis Management Team, Work Area Recovery tests and a rolling desktop testing programme in which each area of the business is methodically tested twice yearly.
One of M&S’s simple but effective innovations is the ‘evac pack’ – a distinctive, branded red suitcase distributed to every store that contains essential items for use in a crisis.
While M&S had a well-developed BCM programme covering its UK organisation, this level of preparedness was not mirrored in its international operations and the BC team made redressing this situation a priority in 2010.
The team created an objective rating system to measure the preparedness of every department, store and business operation in the group worldwide, enabling them to direct their efforts where most needed.
M&S has been particularly successful in embedding a BCM culture throughout its organisation. Recognising that its employees may well be on the front line in an emergency – as indeed they were in the 7/7 London bombings – M&S places great emphasis on ensuring employees know what to do in a crisis to keep themselves, their colleagues and members of the public safe.
BCM is woven into the fabric of daily store and depot operations through measures such as major incident contact cards, a dedicated page in the M&S quarterly magazine, a BC portal on the intranet and compulsory BC training.
The effectiveness of M&S’s BCM programme is such that the retailer was a finalist in the Business Continuity Team of the Year category in the 2011 BC Awards while John Frost scooped the Newcomer of the Year title. Summing up the close working relationship that has developed between M&S and Sungard AS, John Frost comments, “I consider Sungard my BC partner in the fullest sense.”