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Building Resilience: Al Arabia Trading's Journey to Business Continuity Excellence (a case study)

A Vision for Resilience

Mohammad, the CEO, while at Al Arabia Trading’s strategy meeting opined to have better Resilience in the company, but it was admitted that they did not understand much about it. They approached DBD Training & Consultancy (OPC) Private Limited (DBD T&C) in India for consultancy help.

Bridging the Knowledge Gap

DBD T&C conducted an initial Gap Assessment that established that Al Arabia Trading had various components of Employee Health & Safety, Risk & Crisis Management etc. and advised to improve through a structured approach.

An Expert-Led Transformation

DBD T&C deployed a team under the guidance of one of their most experienced consultants, Daman – with 4 decades of global experience (including that of the Middle East) and 2 decades of experience in the Resilience domain. He was a multi-award-winner, author, trainer, consultant, practitioner, and auditor.

Crafting the Resilience Roadmap

A long-term road map for Resilience Program was drawn as shown below:

Resilience Roadmap

Phase 1: Strengthening the Foundation

Al Arabia Trading agreed to the advice to continue and strengthen its existing practices (first 3 steps in the roadmap) Employee Health & Safety, Risk & Crisis Management, and related domains.

Phase 2: Embracing Business Continuity

Journey of BCM (Business Continuity Management) Implementation, in line with the ISO 22301:2019 standard.

Navigating the BCM Lifecycle

Daman took the Al Arabia Trading Top Management through a day-long workshop to explain BCM lifecycle according to the ISO 22301:2019 (international standard for BCM) as below:

BCM Implementation Cycle

Daman explained the cycle stages as:

  • Establish a Policy and Manual containing scope, objectives, interested parties, and the Context of the organisation

  • Conduct Business Impact Analysis (BIA) and Risk Assessment (RA)

  • Develop continuity strategies

  • Develop BCM Plans (business continuity, incident-crisis management, crisis communication, emergency, IT Disaster Recovery, cybersecurity, information security etc.)

  • Test plans, and maintain plans through reviews and audits

  • Ensure appropriate competencies exist and

  • The plans and arrangements are improved continually

He explained that the certification to ISO 22301:2019 was optional but was recommended as it would provide higher assurance to all stakeholders, including the government, shareholders, investors customers, employees and the general public. DBD T&C’s recommended approach was modular and would take care of this.

The following table presented by Daman made Al Arabia Trading’s top management understand the BCM Implementation further.

Key Outcomes/ Deliverables from a BCM Implementation

Modular Approach for Success

A comprehensive BCMS (thorough implementation) will need about 45 documents of different types, and hence DBD T&C recommended a stepped approach for Al Arabia Trading. The first phase would produce about 50% of these artifacts and the second phase, focusing on review, maintenance, and improvement, would take care of the rest.

Daman explained that it was important to understand that the Business Continuity (BC) Plan was one document that entailed detailed steps to ensure the continuity of critical/ time-sensitive processes, but needed many more documented plans to support it e.g. incident-crisis management, crisis communication, emergency, IT Disaster Recovery, cybersecurity, information security plans, etc.

Unveiling the Interconnections

Daman, with the help of the following diagram, explained how BCM was closely linked with many other programs in the company.

BCM’s linkages with other domains/ programs

Addressing Common Failures

Some common failures that would need addressing through the BC plan were noted as:

Common failures for all organisations

Some risks anticipated for Al Arabia Trading were listed as:

  • Incompetent staff/ contractors

  • Environmental hazards

  • Safety hazards

  • Labour shortage

  • Supply chain

  • Global pricing

  • Digitisation, including data security and AI interventions

  • Security in their warehouses

  • Regulatory and legal compliance

  • Health (including Pandemic)

  • International political scenario

Tailored Strategies for Resilience

Al Arabia Trading, through its BCM Implementation established strategies for the following 6 categories according to the possible failures:

  1. Employees – missing/ sick due to various reasons (flood/ fire/ earthquake/ sickness/ strike/ epidemic/ pandemic etc.)

  2. Building – being down/ inaccessible due to various reasons (flood/ fire/ earthquake/ strike etc.)

  3. IT – being down for various reasons (flood/ fire/ earthquake/ data breach/ datacenter technical failure/ ransomware attack/ cyber-attack etc. Some of these may be accidental or intentional.)

  4. Suppliers – being down for various reasons (flood/ fire/ earthquake/ sickness/ strike/ epidemic/ pandemic/ utilities/ suppliers/ information/ IT etc. at their end). This may include critical large equipment/ machinery also.

  5. Utilities – being down for various reasons (flood/ fire/ earthquake/ sickness/ strike/ epidemic/ pandemic etc.)

  6. Information – being down/ missing/ unavailable for various reasons (flood/ fire/ earthquake/ sickness/ strike/ epidemic/ pandemic/ theft/ leakage/ breach etc.)

Leveraging the organization's inherent complexities, these strategies capitalized on multiple locations and warehouses, minimizing single points of failure.

Commitment to Quality

Both the parties ensured Quality of deliverables using the following approach:

Quality Assurance Process

Al Arabia Trading through this program implementation is on track to achieve its organisational objectives. They plan to make continual improvements in their BCMS (Business Continuity Management System).

Realizing Tangible Benefits

While thanking DBD T&C and its team at the project closure, Al Arabia Trading CEO Mohammad said that they had achieved the following business benefits from their BCM Implementation:

Enhancing Disaster Preparedness

1. Better preparedness for facing and managing disasters – assurance through Business Continuity Tests

Effective Disaster Management

2. Better management of disasters if they happen to control impact and duration

Elevated Stakeholder Satisfaction

3. Enhanced stakeholder satisfaction:

a. Staff

b. Customers (NPS – Net Promoter Score, has gone up)

c. Regulator/ government

d. Shareholders/ investors

e. Special interest groups

f. Board

g. General public

h. Vendors

i. Positive movement on top and bottom lines

j. Better insurances

Gaining a Competitive Edge

4. The robust resilience framework conferred a competitive advantage within the marketplace.

Positive Image Boost

5. The organization's enhanced resilience and adept crisis management elevated its public image.

Strengthened Corporate Governance

6. The comprehensive BCM approach fortified corporate governance, demonstrating Al Arabia Trading's commitment to responsible operations.

Celebrating Critical Success Factors

And the project was closed with the following critical success factors:

  1. Continued commitment of the top management

  2. Top-class consultancy services by DBD T&C

  3. Right resources for BC Program Manager and Department Coordinators

  4. Times reviews, inputs, and approvals

  5. Modular approach as recommended by DBD T&C

  6. Comprehensive training program to ensure full knowledge transfer to Al Arabia Trading staff

Radiating Thought Leadership

Al Arabia Trading is now displaying its thought leadership in BCM:

  • Learning and sharing beyond their own organisation

  • IP creation in BCM

  • Speaking at international events

  • Writing on various channels, including BCI, DRII, etc.

  • Ready to move on to the next steps on their long-term Resilience Roadmap

Empowering Self-Sufficiency

Thanks to DBD T&C’s implementation approach, Al Arabia Trading now has sufficient in-house competencies and is maintaining and improving its BCMS on its own. They have recently asked DBD T&C to guide them in ISO 22301 certification too and are happy to be a reference for DBD T&C to any organisation.

In closing, CEO Mohammad expressed profound gratitude to DBD T&C and its dedicated team for their invaluable support in achieving a resilient future. Al Arabia Trading's successful BCM Implementation not only fortified the organization against adversity but also cemented its standing as a Beacon of Resilience and Excellence in the business landscape.

Mohammad is a happy CEO today!

(A model case study)

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Daman Sood
Daman Sood
Dec 01, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I look forward to your views on this piece.

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