Augentius, one of the largest independent private equity and real estate fund administrators in the world, found itself caught up in the 2017 London Bridge atrocity in which three terrorists killed seven people and injured 48. The combined vehicle ramming and stabbing attack took place directly outside Augentius' London office, resulting in its evacuation and closure.
Faced with denial of access to its premises, Augentius activated its disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Contingency measures included several Workplace Recovery seats at one of Sungard Availability Services'® (Sungard AS) workplace recovery centres in London. The company's preparedness ensured it could meet all client deliverables on the first business day after the attack.
- Augentius continued business as usual following a serious terror attack, despite denial of access to its premises
- Timely, reliable communication throughout meant customers were kept up-to-date with developments, while employees knew where they should work from and how to access vital systems
- Augentius clients, many of which are regulated businesses, have the reassurance the firm's contingency measures will work when called upon
Resilient Culture Ensures Business as Usual for Augentius
Even before the terror attacks, David Bailey had never doubted the value of having business continuity provision. "It's a fact of business life – you never know what's coming down the track. The fact that our plans have been put to the test and proved effective is important."
Smoothly responding to the loss of its London office
The London Bridge atrocity, an Islamic terrorist attack that took place on 3 June 2017 when a van left the road and struck a number of pedestrians on London Bridge, occurred directly outside Augentius' London office. This resulted in its evacuation and closure while emergency services treated casualties and police gathered forensic evidence.
The incident occurred just after 10pm on a Saturday night, which allowed Augentius to monitor the situation on Sunday and plan its response before the new business week began. By late Sunday afternoon it became apparent that access to its office on Monday morning was unlikely.
In line with good practice, Augentius tests its IT systems annually, has put in place an emergency notification system and contracts a number of Workplace Recovery positions for key employees at one of Sungard Availability Services' many workplace recovery centres. It has also developed IT systems that support remote working.
But David Bailey, Marketing & Communications Director for Augentius, who led the firm's response admits, "Terror attacks weren't front of mind when we developed our business continuity plans. After all, most disruptions are caused by plumbers or builders drilling through cables."
Business Continuity preparedness and management able to think on their feet
Augentius' London DR team met via conference call and plans were put in place on the basis that the building would continue to be unavailable for the next 24 hours. This included invoking Sungard AS' Docklands Workplace Recovery Centre and preparation of IT systems to allow staff to work from home. Finally, all staff were notified of the situation and advised not to travel into the London office until further notice.
The DR team met again via conference call at 7am on Monday 5 June, having monitored the situation since 6am with the premises manager. When it was confirmed that access to the London office was still not possible, Augentius implemented its DR plan. Staff were updated at 7:30am as promised, confirming that the office was closed and that they should not travel in to London, and then clients emailed at 8:30am. From 9am onwards, these emails were supplemented by personal calls from Augentius' client service teams.
When the business day began, some 60% of Augentius’ client service staff were either remotely logged into the company's systems from home or working from the Sungard AS DR site with over 95% being fully operational by 10am.
Business continuity provision is a fact of business life – you never know what’s coming down the track.
Losses mitigated, clients reassured and lessons learned
Augentius' resilient corporate culture, characterised by employees who know what is expected of them and a management team that can think on its feet, mitigated the potential disruption and ensured all client deliverables were achieved during the course of the day.
However, David Bailey explains, "Shocking as the event was, this was probably the simplest BC problem we could have. We were essentially just locked out of our premises – all our communications and other systems were fully operational and we had plenty of time to think about our response.
"As the attack took place at the weekend, fortunately none of our staff were endangered or witnessed upsetting scenes so we weren't having to deal with people who were injured or worse.
"Having said that, coming back to work on Tuesday morning was pretty horrendous – it was blowing a gale, London Bridge was still partially closed and the whole area was mobbed with TV cameras and reporters. It was a surreal environment and some staff did struggle with that and went home early that day. Everyone has access to counselling via our health insurance plan and we encouraged teams to chat among themselves, brought in cake and fruit and were generally aware of the stresses that existed."
While Augentius' preparedness ensured there was minimal impact on clients, David Bailey believes there are always lessons to be learned and the company has since refined its BC plans as a result.
Even before the terror attacks, David Bailey had never doubted the value of having business continuity provision. "It's a fact of business life – you never know what's coming down the track. The fact that our plans have been put to the test and proved effective is important. Many of our clients are regulated businesses so they need to have the comfort that not only do we have contingency measures in place but that they will work when called on."
It's a fact of business life – you never know what's coming down the track. The fact that our plans have been put to the test and proved effective is important. Many of our clients are regulated businesses so they need to have the comfort that not only do we have contingency measures in place but that they will work when called on.