Business Continuity in the Housing Sector

How INONI provided business continuity services to help a large Housing Services provider establish BCM across a widely distributed group.

Our client is a leading housing group comprising 12 partner organisations with more than 2000 staff.  The group manages some 65,000 homes and provides services for around 300,000 people across the UK. It provides general needs, sheltered and supported housing, as well as a range of responsive care, support and maintenance services.

Our relationship with our client has remained strong since 2005 when we were recommended to them by their insurer, the Zurich Insurance Group.  Initially, our scope was restricted to the company’s headquarters in North London and was later expanded to cover all organisational entities, including new associations acquired in 2009 and 2010.  Our aim was initially to satisfy the insurance requirement and subsequently to deliver a fully-managed BS25999-aligned capability across the Group covering all group entities, including housing schemes, central functions and outsourced operations.

Our consultancy addressed all aspects of BCM including drafting policy, establishing the management system, writing the business impact analysis (BIA) and risk register, proposing strategy, developing the crisis plan, writing recovery plans, training, testing and supervising the upkeep of the system as a whole.  The following offer a brief insight into key milestones and events during this time, over and above the basics of building the management system.

Crisis Management

We provided training and rehearsal for senior management, positioning them to deal with the unfamiliar excessive demands associated with crisis conditions. We provided an intensive workshop based on a realistic scenario. This provided an opportunity to familiarise, fine-tune and validate the plan.

Pandemic Planning

As the threat became real, we began detailed planning and rehearsal with our client, ensuring all staff were prepared to support each other and the organisation’s most vulnerable clients through a potentially difficult time.  The pandemic sections of the BCP remain in place today, and continue to form part of regular review and training.

Governance Support

Like many NGOs, our client is externally audited by an independent big four firm on an annual basis.  We provided input directly into the audit process, responding positively to detailed questions about continuity capability and covering all key related audit points.

Organising for Continuity

Well-defined lines of command, roles and responsibilities are fundamental to effective BCM and we successfully proposed the creation of structures to provide governance via a Steering Group and implementation via a Champions Group.  Working collaboratively, these ensured a consistent direction and level of attainment across the organisation.

The London Riots and the 2012 Olympic Games

Our client had vital non-stop operations within a few hundred metres of each of these events, raising the profile and need for continuity to a high level.  Business was significantly and directly threatened in each case, but thanks to careful planning continuity was maintained.  Lessons learned were reflected back into the plans.

Using the INONI Software

Our client’s INONI business continuity software account currently supports some 200+ individual response plans including specialised emergency plans supporting around 130 care homes located across the region.  Each location has its own crisis response capability and detailed plans are maintained by locally appointed BC Champions.