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Business Disruption

Tube strike 2016: City firms must adopt an instinctual reaction to ensure it’s business as usual, even if the Tubes don’t run

29th January 2016

After a disruption in the summer, where industrial action from RMT derailed commuters and brought the capital to a near stand-still, we are once again bracing ourselves for further Tube strikes.

The London Chamber of Commerce (LCC) estimates that the London Underground strikes cost the capital £48m each day; however it’s not just an organisation’s bottom line at stake.

“With customer expectations continuing to rise, and many now expecting a constant, 24/7 service from businesses, any interruption or delay can prove especially costly and leave a business at risk of losing the trust of its customers and the reputation of its brand. This is particularly true in the financial service industry, in which speed of response and constant availability are critical.”

— Keith Tilley, EVP, Global Sales & Customer Services Management, Sungard AS

A central part of the UK’s – and indeed the world’s – economic landscape, being brought to its knees by public transport, or any other form of disruption, is simply unacceptable. Be it flooding, snow or even technology failures, organisations in the City must ensure they remain ‘business as usual’.

It is vital to have a solid Business Continuity Management (BCM) plan in place. This is more than a certificate pinned on a wall. An effective BCM plan should be tested and rehearsed to the point where it becomes intuitive; everyone across the business needs to know what is expected of them, and what their role and responsibilities are when disruption or crisis occurs. As circumstance change, so should the plan.

Take the fire brigade for example: no two incidents a fire officer comes across are the same, but they are able to respond to each incident by applying the extensive training and education they have received. It is this instinctive principle that businesses should aim for when it comes to their approach to continuity and recovery.

“Secondly, organisations need to look to develop new working practices. In 2016, is it still necessary for employees to waste hours struggling through crowds and cancelled trains to reach the office? The adoption of cloud computing and other technologies is critical in unlocking employee productivity regardless of time or place. If the workforce can access business critical information securely from any device or location this would reduce the impact of any disruption.”

— Keith Tilley, EVP, Global Sales & Customer Services Management, Sungard AS

With the first of the planned strikes set to go ahead next Wednesday, London’s businesses must begin to prepare.

This means having in place a clear continuity plan: one that makes the most of the technology solutions available to ensure that day to day operations run smoothly – even if the Tubes don’t.

This article, by Keith Tilley, EVP of global sales and customer services management at Sungard Availability Services, was first published in City AM on 19/1/16.