Monthly Archives: May 2020

Why It’s Time To Pay Attention To Business Continuity Planning

(Source: getstencil)

I don’t know what you’ve experienced but in my working life I’ve noticed that Business Continuity Planning often features at the bottom of the pile, the last item on that list of business priorities.

And that’s if it even gets on the list to begin with! It’s rare to see this type pf planning being given the time and attention it deserves. But the coronavirus outbreak and its wide-ranging impact on economies and businesses has brought the benefits of good Business Continuity Planning into sharp focus.

So What Is Business Continuity Planning?

Business Continuity Planning is the creation of systems to deal with potential disasters and threats to a business.

It involves reviewing a number of hypothetical scenarios and planning how your business can continue to run, even if all hell breaks loose! For example: What would you do if there was a cybersecurity attack?

Or, if the City of London (and your office-based teams) had to be evacuated?

Or – as has happened this year – if the whole economy and your supply chain shuts down for a few months? Would you still be able to offer your products and services; could you afford to pay salaries to your team, your suppliers, and yourself?

It’s become evident that many plans were not worth the paper they were printed on, and are in desperate need of a complete overhaul.

That’s why I’m exploring Business Continuity Planning, and what a good plan should contain.

Preparing To Create Your Business Continuity Plan

Before you start on the actual plan, there are a number of steps to complete.

They may require some research and consultation with stakeholders, as the information is unlikely to be readily available:

  • Conduct a Business Impact Analysis. Identify the critical functions and processes which are core to your business’s existence, without which there wouldn’t be a business to run! What would the impact would be if they are interrupted? Pinpoint who’s responsible for each one and capture their contact details. Include alternative locations where these functions can operate from, and details of how people will be moved there (and by who).
  • The next step before the actual Business Continuity Plan is to identify the risk and impact on business functions. So, list the functions performed by each department, categorise them by order of importance, and describe what the impact would be if that function is suddenly lost. Would the department and wider business activities be crippled? Or could you easily adjust and continue operating?
  • The final piece before you start on your plan is to quantify what the losses would be if part (or all) of your business became unavailable. A simple way to do this is to estimate the revenue you would normally generate in a month, quarter or year, and use that figure as a baseline. You could get more sophisticated and include things like salaries and other contractual agreements which would potentially still need to be met.

What Are The Components of A Good Business Continuity Plan?

Recovery Strategy

The first thing to start with is your recovery strategy.

Include a list of team members who need to be available, their departments and contact details. You also have to think about how you will contact and communicate with people, and frequency. So, you will definitely send out communication at the start, but would you continue to do so at regular intervals? Every 30 minutes, or every hour, for example? Will the comms differ in content and frequency depending on people’s locations, where they are based and seniority?

What Resources Do You Need?

Next, work out who and what you need to keep the business going. Which members of your team, which departments and which equipment and systems are needed to perform business-critical functions?

Decide In Advance Who Will Participate In Making Decisions

Then, determine who should be part of the decision-making process. Beware though, as this can get political! There may be several people in the Senior Leadership Team, who think they should be all be involved. But try to stick to a core group; the last thing you want is a roundtable where people struggle to move things forward at what will be a crucial time.

A key point is that your Business Continuity Plan should focus on each department or area of your business. Particularly in a large organisation, you need to involve departmental heads who will naturally know more when it comes to pinpointing critical functions, people and resources.

Test & Maintain

Once completed, your Business Continuity Plan and the team whose focus it is to manage any disruption have to be tested at regular intervals to help identify any weaknesses and make sure they are robust and resilient.

On a final note…

Just to say that Business Continuity Planning isn’t just for large businesses! It applies to small, medium and even micro-businesses. The size of the plan and the level of detail may vary, but the apparent benefits of having one means this cannot be ignored and has to be priority.

If this isn’t something you have paid attention to before and creating a Business Continuity Plan is now a priority for you – which it should be – then contact me here and I can help you get started right away.

Bibliography:

Investopedia.com. Business Continuity Planning. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/business-continuity-planning.asp [Accessed 22 May 2020]

aig.co.uk. Building a Business Continuity Plan: Guidelines For Preparation of Your Plan. (2013). [online] Available at: https://www.aig.co.uk/content/dam/aig/emea/united-kingdom/documents/property-insights/business-continuity-planning-guidelines-for-preparation-of-your-plan.pdf [Accessed 22 May 2020]

Impact of Coronavirus Pandemic on the Payments Sector

In the course of the coronavirus pandemic the world we knew has changed beyond recognition.

This has had a significant impact on the Payments sector, and resulted in new trends and unintended consequences.

Here are a few:

Should Businesses Be Expected To Work For Free During The Pandemic?

The first is the expectation that products and services should be available at no cost, or at the very least with a sizeable discount.

Now, I understand that many of us are in dire straits when it comes to our finances and disposable income, what with the economy being shut down for two months and counting. But what chance is there of a recovery if the few businesses that can operate are unable to pay their teams?

Is it acceptable for more people to depend on the government?

Colonel Tom Moore (Source: bbc.com)

Here’s an example of what I mean. The incredible Colonel and recently knighted Tom Moore – who’s one hundred years old! – raised more than £30 million for the National Health Service doing a fundraising walk in his garden during lockdown. He used Justgiving’s online platform for it, but the company has come under fire for taking a percentage of what he raised in fees. Even the Prime Minister weighed in.

Why should the company face a backlash? The fees cover operating costs such as wages for 150 staff, and includes bank processing fees which it has no control over.

It’s unfortunate that their specialty in processing large volumes in payments is so undervalued. Surely critics don’t want the task performed by elements who lack the necessary accreditation and knowledge to do so?

I don’t subscribe to profiteering – especially not in the middle of a global pandemic. But surely where businesses can work and get paid, they should?

More Refunds In the Travel and Leisure Sectors

Another consequence of the pandemic on Payments will be an increase in refunds requested by customers, and the subsequent increase in related exceptions processing.

(Source: getstencil)

Customers who have booked flights and holidays don’t appear to be getting much in the way of good service. When things go wrong, whether self-inflicted or matters outside your control as a business such as a global pandemic, positive and proactive engagement with customers is the recommended and best course of action.

Unfortunately, customers have reported not being able to contact airlines, travel agents and others in this space, refund requests rejected and being strong-armed into accepting credit vouchers instead.

Since these businesses have prioritised issuing vouchers instead of refunds in a bid to survive, customers are waking up to their rights under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act of 1974 which protects credit card purchases.

As long as the transaction amount is over £100 but less than £30,000, any customer with a cancelled holiday can make a claim, since the Act makes the card provider and retailer jointly liable if a product is faulty, not delivered, fails to match the advertised description, or the retailer stops trading.

Growing dissatisfaction with the industry, coupled with customers’ genuine need for funds during this period means we are likely to see more of them go down this route.

Note: While refunds are not the same as chargebacks, there will be an increase in those too.

Rise In Contactless Payments

I’m usually an advocate for cash, but I haven’t touched it since the outbreak.

And I’m not alone: the use of contactless payments has jumped by 40%!

Card providers quickly responded to the demand by increasing the spending limit on contactless card payments from £30 to £45 from 1st April, which has helped customers complete many purchases without having to handle notes and coins, or input a PIN.

Making the Case For a Cashless Society?

And as more people use contactless cards more frequently, cash use has dropped.

(Source: getstencil)

There has already been a significant reduction in the infrastructure around cash as a payment method; could this drop further build the business case to continue down that path?

I hope not. Many use and prefer cash for various reasons, and let’s not forget that for a significant proportion without access to banking, it’s their only option.

Cash is crucial to facilitating and maintaining financial inclusion, and must not be removed from the landscape as a payment method. It has to stay available and affordable.

More E-Commerce Transactions

We’ve all been stuck at home on lockdown with nothing to do other than exercise, homeschool if you have children, bake banana bread, make TikTok videos…

…and shop online. According to The Wall Street Journal, some countries have experienced a soar in e-commerce transactions have increased by as much as 81%.

Retailers with sleek, efficient supply chains and distribution channels have reaped a return on their investments (I see you Amazon), while those who have not kept up with the times in that regard must be kicking themselves.

It means that payment processors, acquirers and gateways are seeing more traffic than ever come through this channel, and it goes without saying that their infrastructure and back office functions must be robust enough to cope with the increase in volumes.