Powering Up Business Continuity
The Community Spotlight Blog Series
The Community Spotlight Blog Series highlights some of the great stories from the Fusion community as well as the innovative things our clients are doing in the industry. This spotlight focuses on how powering up business continuity transformed a major utilities provider’s program.
Major Utilities Provider Uses Centralization and Standardization to Streamline Business Continuity
For 125 years, a major utilities provider has delivered reliable electric service and has taken a leadership role in pursuing alternative and renewable energy. The company now serves 14 million customers. As part of their constant work to keep power flowing, the company places a high priority on business continuity. All of their employees recognize that if there is a business interruption, thousands of businesses and millions of people can be personally impacted.
Over time, the company’s business continuity team became frustrated with the decentralized, document-based system that was being used to manage their 59 business continuity plans. The company’s Business Continuity Program Manager states, “We developed a multi-year roadmap of what we wanted to do with the business continuity program and when we were going to do it. To execute on this plan, we needed a company that was going to work with us long-term – a partner who would be able to address the special challenges we faced.”
The company found the power they needed with Fusion Risk Management and the Fusion Framework® System™.
The Power of Centralization
The Fusion Framework gave the company a business continuity system that they could configure at will and which would scale as the program did. Now, instead of having critical information scattered across hundreds of documents – making content hard to find and difficult to update – data is centralized in a single system. Data is imported seamlessly from multiple sources, including human resources, application management, and vendor risk management. The result is that teams, processes, and applications can be linked together and coordinated effectively across the enterprise.
Centralization allows the business continuity team to locate gaps in information, identify vulnerabilities, and systematically strengthen individual plans and the overall program. The Business Continuity Program Manager notes, “There are wildfires every summer that affect our infrastructure and customers. The potential for an earthquake always exists. There are closures due to snow, landslides, and even Mylar balloons. We now have the all-important central view that gives us visibility into what gets affected when something goes wrong and what people need to be doing to get power back up. In a heavily-regulated industry such as ours, this visibility is essential.”
Reporting has also benefited heavily from the centralization of data. The Fusion Framework enables the business continuity team to run reports – even custom reports – in a hurry and build them into dashboards for ease of use. “We have many different levels of information being requested,” the Business Continuity Program Manager explains. “For example, there are the basic requirements of the people who respond at the incident level, there are the detailed demands of plan managers, and there are the expectations of leadership who want to see the value that our program is delivering to the business. With all of our data centralized, I can run reports that deliver targeted information to specific audiences.”
An unexpected – but more than welcome – consequence of centralization has been an increase in the demand for data. “The more data we get into the system, the more data people seem to want to be able to pull out of it,” the Business Continuity Program Manager says. “We are getting requests constantly for information on infrastructure, servers, sites, vendors, and managed service providers. Obviously, there was a lot of pent-up demand for information. People are excited that data is now organized, accessible, and reportable.”
The Power of Standardization
Along with centralization, standardization has greatly empowered the company’s business continuity program. Right from the start, they put into place standardized templates. The Business Continuity Program Manager affirms, “A major milestone for user engagement is that we are able to give people standard templates. With templates, we don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel every time we want to create a new process, do a business impact analysis, or have an exercise. We have the templates in place and can move forward swiftly.”
When the Fusion Framework was first implemented, the Business Continuity Manager was bombarded with requests for access which led her to standardize system access. She worked with the IT department to put in place a standard form to request system access. Now, instead of having her day constantly interrupted, she can take care of an entire batch of system access requests at one time, increasing her overall productivity and efficiency.
Along with granting system access, the Business Continuity Program Manager introduces new users to a variety of tools, job aids, and training opportunities so they can learn the Fusion Framework System and become familiar with performing their required tasks. “The process promotes a positive user experience and enthusiastic user engagement,” she states.
Another time drain for the Business Continuity Program Manager was the demand for ad hoc support, so she took steps to standardize assistance requests. If people have a question or are experiencing an issue, they submit an assistance request which is a standard online form with pull-down menus to clarify the problem or concern. The Business Continuity Manager then receives an email summary of the requests. Once a week, she responds to everyone who submitted an assistance request. But, more than that, she is able to track issues to see if there are any trends or areas of uncertainty. She can then provide FAQs, job aids, or training to strengthen people’s confidence on the system. The Business Continuity Program Manager also holds open office hours via video conference several times a week where people can call in for immediate input on the tools, processes, and procedures.
More Power Is on the Way
The Business Continuity Program Manager has a lot of plans moving forward for the Fusion Framework. Incident management, risk management, and vendor management are all on the docket, as are improvements to their assessment process.
“With Fusion as a partner, we have a wealth of opportunities to further enhance our business continuity program. Centralization and standardization have made our program streamlined and robust, and it will only continue to get better.”