Collector - June 2020 - 28

Insights From A Business
Continuity Provider
We checked in with Claire MacMillan, strategic partnership
associate for Agility Recovery Solutions Inc., an ACA International
affiliate member, to get an update on the business continuity
provider's experience during this crisis.
Q: What do you think companies have learned so far
about pandemic response plans?
Most companies we work with are adjusting their plan to incorporate
the lessons learned from the recent pandemic, and also how to live with
whatever the new normal turns out to be. Agility has a specific pandemic
response strategy for our clients, which includes physical assets, plan
building, crisis communications and testing. We recommend businesses
build a plan that is flexible and allows an opportunity to incorporate
lessons learned from every incident, which helps you prepare for the next
incident, no matter what the source of the interruption.
Q: How have companies with a plan in place come out ahead?
We saw our customer activity rise weeks before confirmed coronavirus
cases began to escalate across North America, which means those
businesses had already engaged their response and recovery plan
long before they were in crisis mode. The businesses that planned
ahead were able to focus on their people first to ensure they were safe
and able to continue working as best as possible. This meant people
retained their jobs and a safe work environment during unprecedented
uncertainty around the world, preventing minimal business disruption.
For example, after the national emergency was declared,
businesses without proactive plans and partnerships in place
were scrambling to source technology equipment such as laptops,
monitors, desktops and even basic equipment such as phones and
headsets. We heard stories of 200-400%+ price spikes for technology
equipment and many instances in which orders were not fulfilled.
We experienced record-breaking customer activity and we were able
to provide access to mission-critical technology equipment as part of
customers' membership with Agility so they could avoid scrambling in
the moment resulting in a situation in which critical equipment cannot
be sourced and/or prices and delivery times have spiked exponentially.

28

changes the states were actually expecting.
This led to rapid-fire tickets being submitted
to our already-overburdened IT department
which, in turn, led to unnecessary confusion.
It was then that we learned to appoint one
person for all change requests, and to have
them sit on state orders for a day or two to
ensure we were not requesting changes that
would need immediate tweaking.
Having one point-person meant we also
knew who to charge with the responsibility of
overseeing when changes could, or should, be
reversed. After all, whether you were deleting
tradelines in Nevada or stopping calls to
Massachusetts, odds are you never intended
the change to be a permanent one. Appointing
one person to oversee the change process
should help minimize your downtime in those
states once things return to business as usual.

WHAT WE DID... LESS RIGHT
I'm sure it will come as a surprise, but I
can tell you definitively we spent little time
as a company talking about what it would
look like if we had to send everyone home
(seemingly) overnight. Because it was not
part of our prior business model, we opted
against shifting agents home without first
consulting with our clients and getting
their buy-in. Even some of the largest ones,
however, had no predefined requirements for
the model, meaning there were considerable
delays in getting all the requisite approvals.
Next time, we will attempt to head
off those issues by doing two things: (1)
Make sure off-site and work-from-home
(WFH) options are approved in our
service agreement, and (2) Have the client
requirements outlined before there is an
actual need to invoke the clause.
For example, one of our clients required
that the WFH agents only service their
accounts on CMI-issued equipment. The
preference is understandable when you
consider their need to ensure data security,
but it was unknown to us until after we
had already sent our employees home and
authorized some to use their own desktops
(albeit logged into a secured VPN). This
meant we had to either bring employees
back in to assign equipment or route calls for

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