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Learn About Operational Resilience

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Define operational resilience.
  • Outline the six phases of a resilience program.
  • Begin developing a return to the workplace strategy.
Note

Note

This module was sponsored by and produced in collaboration with Fusion Risk Management, which owns, supports, and maintains the Fusion Risk Management products, services, and features described here. Use of Fusion Risk Management products, services, and features is governed by privacy policies and service agreements maintained by Fusion Risk Management. Learn more about partner content on Trailhead

Fusion Risk Management provides a cloud-based platform built on Salesforce that enables companies to be resilient and manage risk more effectively. In response to COVID-19, Fusion created the Resilience Toolkit Powered by Fusion. This module provides high-level strategies from the Resilience Toolkit that you can use as you create a workplace reopening plan for your organization.

The Six Phases of an Operational Resilience Program

Operational resilience refers to a business’s ability to prevent, respond to, recover, and learn from operational disruptions. In practice, this allows an organization to absorb shocks and adapt, rather than buckle under pressure. 

Every organization in the world is currently facing some level of disturbance caused by COVID-19, a unique disruption that has had a global impact. While every business is still navigating this evolving disruption, it’s important to understand what organizations can do right now and in the future to enhance the resilience of their operations.

To explain what an operational resilience program looks like, Fusion has outlined the following six phases. Make sure you also check out the resources section at the end of this unit, which includes detailed checklists for each phase.

Phase 1: Readiness

Build a resilience program in advance of an actual incident.

Every organizational effort, from developing a new business line to launching a product, begins with a planning phase. Developing a resiliency program is no different. As it relates to resilience, this initial phase is called readiness. It puts the organization in a position from which to carry out the following phases when a crisis occurs.

Don’t ignore this phase—without proper preparation or readiness, an organization’s ability to respond and recover is disorganized and less effective, while sending the message that resilience is not an important and required business process.

These are steps typical of the readiness phase of a resilience program.

  • Identify services—Organizations need to identify and document the critical or important business services that have considerable systemic impact internally and externally.
  • Map resources—Service dependencies need to be mapped using processes as the center point—critical resources are systematically brought to the surface for analysis and consideration.
  • Set impact tolerances—Impact tolerances are set (based on specific impact categories) by using the most critical data and information coming in from mapped resources and continuing monitoring activities.
  • Scenario testing and validation—Organizations must test their ability to remain within impact tolerance for each critical or important service—this validates confidence in the resilience of services.
  • Response and communication—Impact tolerance testing and analysis should focus on the response and recovery actions organizations take to continue the delivery of critical or important business services.

Phase 2: Response

Determine what happened and how it affected your organization.

The response phase comes before you execute recovery plans. In this phase, you assess the situation and determine the best course of action (which may be to move to the recovery phase). Properly executing a response is a critical step and saves your organization from potentially losing time, dollars, and people hours. 

Phase 3: Recovery

Recognize how organizations recover critical business processes.

Recovery is the process of making sure critical business processes can continue functioning during an incident or crisis. During this phase, it is important to understand that while some business processes may recover at different times (in a staggered fashion), other business processes may not recover. The intention is to keep the business operating as much as possible while mitigating impact.

Phase 4: Restoration

Begin resuming normal operations.

Restoration is the process of emerging from recovery efforts and beginning the journey to reestablish either business as usual or whatever the new normal will be for your industry and organization. 

Phase 5: Resumption

Resumption is the process of fully returning to business as usual, or business according to the “new normal.”

Phase 6: Reporting

Provide management and after-action reports. 

Reporting includes the process of capturing what has been learned along the way and documenting the actions the organization can undertake to improve their response to a crisis in the future. You learn more about reporting later.

Data Foundation

Establish a data foundation by organizing operational data that captures the essence of how your business works, situational intelligence that includes everything about the disruption or incidents as they unfold, and experiential data that chronicles the crisis and your response. 

The experiential data guides you and your teams to think about how your response, recovery, restoration, and, eventually, resumption efforts have gone. It is important to ask: What data have you captured? What learnings have you attained that can assist you during subsequent stages of your business response and your return to a new or original normal state of operation?

Throughout all of the phases above, gather, organize, and utilize experiential data on an ongoing basis to:

  • Support decision-making
  • Provide core metrics for measurement
  • Enable program improvements
  • Provide content for reporting

Establish a Set of Strategies to Return to the Workplace

As your organization has been navigating COVID-19 and all of its challenges, from change in operations to the economic turmoil, there’s a new challenge that most organizations face now—how to approach reopening the office.

The health and safety of employees should be an organization’s top priority as it considers how to bring operations back to some resemblance of a pre–COVID-19 normal. Develop return to the workplace strategies to guide your short-term plans and provide insight into long-term solutions. Keep in mind, guidance and regulatory mandates are often changing, and you should often reevaluate your strategies against updates.

While there is no standard set of strategies that fit every company and industry, here are some strategies that are common and applicable to multiple industries and organizations.

  1. Develop a return to the workplace plan.
  2. Overcommunicate procedures and steps.
  3. Create sanitation controls.
  4. Create physical space controls.
  5. Create administrative controls.
  6. Monitor employees’ emotional and physical health.

The return to the workplace plan should be actionable but flexible. As you acquire new information, reevaluate and adjust procedures and steps.

As you work to reduce the risk of spreading infection in the physical workplace and create plan procedures and protocols, continually monitor and incorporate new information and guidelines from authoritative sources, such as:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • Industry-specific regulations and best practices
  • State and local requirements

For offices that are outside of the US, monitor specific country and local requirements. 

There is no doubt that the future of work has changed, and it's more important than ever for businesses to be dynamic and focused on their employees. Operational resilience allows your business to safeguard employees and business operations.

In the next unit, we dive into developing a return to work plan and a cross-functional task force to create and execute appropriate procedures and steps for safely returning to the workplace.

Resources