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What is Operational Resilience in a post-crisis world?

The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 crisis has changed the business landscape forever. Now, leaders are grappling with the rapid onset of a new normal; a new way of leading and a new way of operating businesses. While companies slowly emerge from the lockdown, leaders are reviewing the changes and designing a future framework that builds on initial learnings, champions positive transformation, and ensures sustainable operational resilience for the future.

In our previous insights series, Leading for a healthier business future, we examined proactive crisis management, from implementing crisis response teams to measuring the right metrics for increased agility and even the beginnings of shaping the new company roadmap. Now, as we shift into the next phase, it’s time to look beyond the crisis and understand what it means to maintain a healthier business future.

Operational resilience is, at its core, the ability of an organisation to serve its customers and protect itself and its people in the face of crises by anticipating, mitigating, recovering from and adapting to future such events. This means leaders must be able to manage crises while enabling day-to-day operations, continuing to meet regulatory obligations, reducing risks and preparing for security threats. Being operationally resilient involves addressing every facet of the business, from technology deployed to workplace culture, and will require top-down commitment from senior leadership.

The new business environment requires leaders to manage a new normal and understand what it will take to be operationally resilient in a redefined future. This new world is mostly digital, and driven by remote workforces. Forbes predicts that video meetings are here to stay, and changes to the workforce will be permanently adopted. AI-driven technology solutions will be even more popular in enabling these changes, hinting at large-scale digital disruption expected to hit most industries. With this comes increasing challenges around workforce management, digital transformation, cybersecurity, compliance management, customer experience and more. Leaders must be prepared to guide their organisations through significant changes changes and supporting their people through this transformation will need be central to business strategy.

Drawing on our extensive experience helping clients in building agility and sustainability in their businesses, we’ve developed a framework to help you manage this incredibly different future. Our new series, Leading for a changed future – what are your ‘AHA’ moments? explores the critical areas for leaders to invest in for true operational resilience. 

To build resilience in the post-crisis future, leaders must understand:

  1. How to manage an elastic workforce. As we’ve discovered during this crisis, the remote work environment demands a very different way of managing to ensure teams are engaged, productive and collaborative despite the distance. Leaders have had to pivot quickly to meet this change and discover a significant opportunity in enhancing productivity and motivation with the increased flexibility afforded to workers. The challenge now is finding the right balance and measuring the right metrics to continue to build on the success of this forced experiment.
  2. The critical role of technology in productivity. From video conferencing to collaborative team tools, a wealth of innovative tech solutions will be needed to help manage the flexible workforce and ensure ongoing improvement. However, leaders must approach this strategically, ensuring that they don’t invest in technology for technology’s sake, or falling into the trap of pin-point solutions that complicate the process. They must also work to get employee buy-in on the tools and enable the workforce to adopt these effectively, with the right training.
  3. The importance of compliance-first thinking. As new systems and technology are introduced, leaders are faced with increasingly complex security and compliance challenges. To mitigate risks, comprehensive compliance management will need to be explored, from enabling a compliance-first mindset across all levels of the organisations to understanding how key partnerships, such as with RegTech organisations, can help simplify the process, reduce risks and manage costs. Leaders need to step away from viewing compliance as the sole responsibility of the Compliance officers and ensure commitment from all individuals.
  4. How a Single Source of Truth is necessary for transformation. Metrics will be essential across the complete transformation to allow visibility on people and performance, easing the transition. Leaders will need to factor in insights around productivity, customer engagement, employee engagement, organisational culture, quality, risks and costs in decision-making. A Single Source of Truth will help create a resilient operating rhythm that is dependable, accurate, and consistently updated. This will ensure organisations will have the right people at the right place at the right time with the right reporting capability.

Ultimately, achieving operational resilience is a journey of continuous improvement. Leaders must constantly assess, analyse and adapt strategies, knowing there is no one-size-fits-all, and every major business crisis will present its unique challenges. The road to total business transformation will be long and with barriers of resistance, resources and time, requiring investment and consistent support from senior leadership to get people on board for change.

It’s time for leaders to get on the front foot and prepare to face the new normal.

Lead your business into a changed future with Enlighten. To explore your options, reach out to Helen Mackay, Head of Sales and Marketing at helen.mackay@enlighten-opex.com for a virtual coffee chat.

 

AHA MOMENT

The Northern Trust – Enlighten technology is the solution for workload management

The crisis highlighted to the Northern Trust the need for being able to deliver their services in an appropriate time, despite the circumstances, and servicing customers sufficiently with a growing demand for their asset servicing and valuation offerings. To that end, they needed to understand their capacity, the cycle time on tasks, the work in progress and the load distribution at any particular time to be able to redeploy quickly and effectively.

Leveraging Enlighten’s solutions, the organisation was able to identify areas where staff could take over work usually performed by other regions. Geographical boundaries were no longer a concern with the remote working situation, and they were able to adapt to the crisis and leverage additional resources quickly.

Pete Cherecwich, President of Asset Servicing at Northern Trust, commented on the flexibility the Enlighten partnership allowed during a high-pressure time. “We’re sending work all over the place. For example, a lot of our asset servicing for the Australian market was performed from Manila in the Philippines. When that closed down, we moved it to Bangkok in Thailand, then to Chicago, and once the Philippines office implemented work from home measures, we moved it back to Manila,” he says. “If we know who has the capacity, we can move that workaround to maximise our output. So, if the volume in Asia is too high, we can have people in the US log in and pick up the slack.

This is a strong example of a business that pivoted quickly, building operational resilience with a future focus and utilising strategic partnerships for greater agility during a disruption. Learn more about Northern Trust’s work with Enlighten here.

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