” The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley ” – Robert Burns
Prior to COVID-19, ‘disaster recovery’ was thought of in terms of coping with a temporary interruption affecting a limited number of personnel for a limited amount of time. While most firms had business continuity plans in place, testing was performed with varying degrees of rigor and with varying degrees of success. For many firms, a disaster recovery test that achieved a ‘workable’ level of functionality was still considered a success given the limited time most firms assumed that the plan would need to be active. Recent events, however, have brought disaster recovery sharply into focus, with all RIAs activating their contingency plans and attempting widespread remote operations – many for the very first time.
Before the current pandemic, disaster recovery planning was focused on how to continue operations when something happens to ‘us’; what no one could have foreseen, however, is a need for operations to continue, for an indeterminate time, when something happens to everyone. Previously, weather events, facilities issues and power outages were considered by most firms to be the most likely sources of an interruption. None of these, however, were viewed to be more than minor irritations that would need to be tolerated for a short amount of time. Most firms assumed that conference space could be rented, alternate data sources could be utilized, and delays in communication would be understandable – all at an acceptable cost.
For many of our clients, Hurricane Sandy was the most recent test of business continuity planning. When Sandy hit New York back in 2012, parts of Manhattan were flooded and the city suffered numerous power outages and building closures. Transportation was suspended, forcing employees to work from home for several days. As an integral participant in our clients’ business continuity plans, we were proud to support our clients and provide uninterrupted service to them when their plans were activated. After the floodwaters receded and the city returned to normal, our clients strengthened their already-solid continuity planning even further, taking additional measures and applying solutions through lessons learned.
What the pandemic has taught us, however, is that (in the familiar translation of the words of Robert Burns) “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” The current situation has by necessity created an unprecedented industry-wide remote workforce, and stressed business continuity plans in unexpected ways. Disaster recovery plans have been active now for quite some time, and most likely for much longer than ever anticipated. As unexpected needs have arisen and been met, one aspect of continuity planning has become very clear: while the plan itself most certainly is important, being able to adapt the plan to unforeseen circumstances is even more so.
Our clients have adapted well. They have juggled home and work responsibilities, dealt with inconveniences and obstacles, and learned to maintain a sense of teamwork in isolation. Through all the challenges COVID-19 has created, they continue to provide the same high level of service to their clients. As an active, integrated participant in our clients’ business continuity plans and the backbone of their back office during ‘normal’ operations, we are honored to be partnered with them in this unprecedented time. We are proud that our services have been something they can count on, and that among the many uncertainties they have faced, the reliability and continuity of their data has not been one of them. We look forward to continuing to provide them with solutions as the nation reopens and will continue to assist in any way necessary as we all move forward together.
To learn more about how Matria’s services can be a vital part of your firm’s business continuity planning, please contact us at 865/675-3952.