Building operational resiliency for anytime, anywhere and any situation

How to meet immediate disruption needs while designing a business continuity plan for the future

By | 4 minute read | May 4, 2020

History is riddled with unexpected challenges and, more importantly, the creative ways people rose to overcome them. Difficult times, like we face today, call for businesses to reconsider transformation of workflows, workforces and workplaces to both recover from current disruption and to ensure preparedness for the next challenge — whatever it may be.

Shared services organizations must continue to deliver productivity, controls, costs savings, user experience, business insights and operational resiliency. We work with our clients to deliver these business outcomes with a combination of intelligent workflows, smarter operations and reimagining how work gets done.

  • Intelligent workflows reimagine the end-to-end workflow, interact with data trapped in disparate IT systems and apply innovative technologies like automation and artificial intelligence to boost productivity and deliver totally different experiences for stakeholders.
  • Smarter operations start with agile, self-driven and motivated cross-functional teams. Teams have virtual stand-up meetings to address daily work tasks, while the technology teams work in parallel to implement solutions from ideas generated by agile teams driving continuous improvements. Control tower enables management and team leaders with prescriptive insights to monitor early warning indicators, orchestrate change in real time, and develop iterative and proactive change management.
  • Borderless workplaces embrace flexible possibilities now available that ensure safety and security for services providers and their employees to be significantly more resilient, responsive and proactive in delivering services at even higher level of productivity and effectiveness.

Together, these elements can help businesses be responsive to their employees, suppliers and customers, as well as adapt and respond to potential disruptions.

Supporting clients for immediate operational continuity

At IBM, we are proud of the way our teams around the world have stepped up to the challenges of COVID-19.

  • In 10 days, our delivery teams in 60 centers across 40 countries to shifted to work from home.
  • Now, more than 99% of our teams have safely and effectively transitioned to working from home to support client operations.
  • There has been zero degradation in the delivery of services, such as responding to employee queries, running payroll, recruiting critical staff, supporting month-end financial close, paying suppliers, and performing risk and compliance reviews.

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) provides human resources management software and services and handles one in every five paychecks in the Unites States. Given the sensitive nature of this work, there was naturally some concern about security and the risk associated with working from home when the COVID-19 crisis hit. The IBM Services team in Naga, Philippines worked with ADP to implement daily agile standups and helped the company make changes and prepare new plans for business continuity. Within two weeks, 98% of the Naga City team was working remotely with portable laptops, physical desktops and Wi-Fi dongles.

Another client, a large telecommunications company, might have been hit hard by shelter-in-place orders, as 100% of the company’s employees worked in its delivery centers across multiple countries. With the support of the IBM Services team and a new end-to-end workflow orchestration program, the company shifted to 100% work-from-home and reported no interruption in service to presales. And, given the spike in demand for telecommunications, the company saw an 18% increase in volume. The company was able to accommodate the demand and bring backlogs to an all-time low — even with increased volume.

But supporting clients in a time of global emergency isn’t always a neat start-to-finish job. When one of North America’s largest financial institutions found finance business processes suddenly threatened by a challenging environment and an overwhelmed provider in the wake of COVID-19, the IBM Services team quickly stepped in to help avoid service interruption. The IBM Services team accelerated the ramp-up process and facilitating security access, identification credentials and knowledge transfer to ensure the client had the necessary support they needed. The transition was complete within eight days and the organization reported no service interruption.

Executing for the future

The key question for business now is: what’s next? What does the future look like? In a period where we look forward to recovery and stability, it is critical to think about how business process services teams can continue to meet expectations of productivity, controls and cost reductions, while providing experiences and insights with higher levels of resiliency.

Our approach with intelligent workflows, smarter workforces and borderless workplaces can help shape the transition from immediate needs to sustainability and future planning. We are working with clients to improve cash flow right now, reduce operating expenses within months, drive ongoing transformation and enable resilient operations.

We will continue to support our teams and clients through this crisis, where everyone’s safety is paramount. IBM is looking to the future, planning for the significant changes and opportunities ahead when we return to the “new normal” in the coming weeks. Business continuity in a crisis doesn’t change the fact that there is a crisis, but a strong foundation of resiliency and business continuity planning can help to minimize the impact for employees and customers alike.