People, Process and Technology: The Glue and Pitfalls of Operational Resilience– May 06, 2021 by Chris Ferguson

Operational resilience speaks to an organization’s ability to continue operations and meet customer needs during times of stress and uncertainty (think natural disaster or data breach). Entities with strong operational resilience can quickly adapt so they can continue providing services without interruption to customers.

People, process and technology are significant aspects of operational resilience. Well trained and informed personnel, effectively designed processes, and availability and knowledge of the right technology are often the key differences in an organization’s ability to demonstrate strong operational resilience and weather a storm.

People – The Driving Force

If people, process and technology are the glue to operational resilience, then people serve as the glue that binds all three individual elements. The people in your organization are critical to maintaining business services during times of distress. They are tasked with communicating with clients, developing and executing the plan, leading the effort to navigate challenges, making key decisions, avoiding past mistakes and adapting to changes. In essence, they are the drivers of your culture of operational resilience.

You organization should take steps to ensure your team is adequately prepared to anticipate, prevent, navigate and recover from adverse operational events. Ensure your people have sufficient support from leadership to make decisions and necessary adjustments, and that they are adequately trained and prepared with a clear understanding of operational resilience and what that means to your organization. Leadership must facilitate a culture that identifies and empowers key personnel to make decisions so they can be prepared and ready for anything.

Process – The Great Connector

The ability to maintain or sufficiently modify processes during times of stress is critical to servicing your clients without interruption. Processes connect people and technology. Without sound processes, your efforts to demonstrate operational resilience will likely be disjointed and littered with frustrated people and underutilized or under leveraged technology.

Identify critical business services and the processes that are key to providing those services. Critical processes include not only those directly connected with providing services but also indirect activities such as those required to maintain obligations for operating (e.g., retaining licenses required to operate or maintaining sufficient insurance coverage in accordance with client agreements).

>> Read “Real-life Testing of Your Business Continuity Plan During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Technology – A Powerful Engine

Technology is the engine that powers operational resilience. Technology facilitates communication, information retrieval and transfer, and access to physical and digital spaces, among other things. For most organizations, ensuring operational resilience often comes down to ensuring technological resilience.

Identify key systems, critical integrations, key data and other information that rely on, or support, your technology efforts, including third party vendors. Also identify organizational requirements that rely on technology (e.g., protecting sensitive customer data).

Process plays an important role in technology as well, such as maintaining adequate IT operational processes surrounding data backup, system redundancy and disaster recovery. You also must ensure your employees are sufficiently trained on how to use available technology, including an awareness of alternative systems available during a disruption and how to access and use those systems.

Preparing your organization in the areas of people, process and technology will be key for your organization to remain running on all cylinders should an unexpected and adverse situation arise.

Contact Chris Ferguson at christopher.ferguson@cohencpa.com or a member of your service team to discuss this topic further.


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Cohen & Company is not rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice. Information contained in this post is considered accurate as of the date of publishing. Any action taken based on information in this blog should be taken only after a detailed review of the specific facts, circumstances and current law.