A cross-organisational approach
In 2018, Watson began working to improve the Society’s Incident and Crisis Management capability. His existing relationship with Sungard AS allowed for a seamless transition to further enhance and mature the Society’s competence in this space.
YBS benefits from 12 days of consultancy expertise per annum, which includes the development
and delivery of Incident and Crisis Management scenario exercises.
This engaged a wide range of stakeholders from Management, Directors and Chief Officers, who naturally form part of both the Operational and Strategic response layers of the Society’s Incident and Crisis Management teams. Identifying what worked well, and what needed to improve, was a key component of this transitional journey.
Another vital element of the transition programme was to develop and deliver a series of awareness training sessions to cover the basics of business continuity, incident, and crisis management techniques. Sungard AS assisted with an awareness briefing for the Society’s board in October 2019 including the chairman and the board of directors. The briefing covered the organisation’s overall approach to resilience and incident and crisis response, as well as what the consulting services would focus on for the given year.
This was followed by awareness training for members of the Society’s Incident & Crisis Management teams, the goal being for each to understand industry ‘best practices.’
Of particular importance was delivering the message that minimising the impact of a disruption meant being prepared to respond to different situations in different ways. This included factoring in different senses of urgency, depending on the severity and nature of the incident or crisis. By using examples of events that could actually happen, Sungard AS explained the processes and risk-based actions that could be applied to gain control of the situation effectively, enabling prompt resolution.
“When we first started, there was a little skepticism about why we were requesting colleagues to be involved to the degree and the level that we were,” Watson says. “The awareness training absolutely helped colleagues understand the reasons why we were looking to enhance the current incident and crisis model. This approach allowed us to overcome the perception that being involved in the incident management process would be onerous and time-consuming.”
“Over the years, we’ve built up great momentum and a significant level of competence as a result of this approach,” Watson continues. “Members of both the Incident & Crisis Management teams engage effectively when we exercise or ‘do it for real’.”
Using the latest Government Risk Register and the strategic priorities of the Society, Watson and his Sungard AS team created plausible, relevant scenarios of severe situations, designed storyboards depicting a sequence of actions, developed scenario exercises and created a slide deck to present to the Incident & Crisis Management teams on exercise day.
For example, the cyber exercise included background about why it is such a pressing issue, what the risk landscape looks like, real-world examples of incidents, as well as exam questions to make the scenario totally realistic.
As part of each scenario exercise, the group was charged with analysing what had happened and deciding what procedures would work best to address it, then prioritising and taking actions. Periodic check-ins kept the team on their 45-minute completion schedule and served as coaching sessions, allowing them to assess progress, examine what’s working and what’s not, and to restart the exercise until conclusion. The target timeline, including initial briefings, was 1.5 hours. Exercise timelines have reduced significantly due to improved competence in this space.
When it comes to delivering scenario exercises, Watson says it’s helped to have a Sungard AS consultant on board. “There are a lot of industry books that say, to get the best out of these exercises, you need somebody who is impartial and external to the organisation, who can run those exercises in a competent and capable manner, which our consultant does,” he says.
“With the exercises we’ve run for the past three years, participants actually know our Sungard AS consultant and how capable he is in this space. We’ve built up a really good level of credibility with them.”