Hedge Funds: Are You Prepared For The London 2012 Olympics?
2012 is a big year for the UK, starting with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, The London Festival, World Pride, and the Olympics. There are many advantages to hosting major events including a considerable boost to the economy, urban regeneration and increased tourism. However, there are also many logistical and technological challenges the hedge fund and alternative investment industry must plan for to ensure their businesses doesn't experience disruptions.
The number of people for the Olympic Games is expected to rise by 300,000 with the number using public transport increasing by over 80,000. Transport networks will be stretched as hundreds of thousands of people use public transport, which means staff may not be able to get to work as easily as usual.
When preparing for any major events, many hedge funds and investment firms will focus on preparing their technology: making sure data is backed up, files are secure, and access to market data remains intact. But often firms forget about the business and operations aspect that is equally as important to keeping a hedge fund's technology operational through a disaster.
In any type of disaster situation, it becomes a necessity to have a business continuity plan in place. Firms will need to ensure their employees know how to access their technology and how to communicate with each other if they are unable to get to the office during the Olympics.
There are certain business continuity best practices that firms should follow in order to ensure their business processes are not interrupted:
The Importance of Communication
The reality is, you can have all the processes and procedures in place to prepare for a disaster, but if they are not properly communicated to your employees and external parties, then their effect with be minimal. Consider creating a call tree or implement an Automated Messaging System that can be configured to send notifications to all employees simultaneously. Using the automated messaging system ensures all employees receive the same message immediately via email, phone call and/or text message.
Remote Access Technologies
Employees will be forced to work from home or an alternative work location if they are unable to get into the office. But ensuring your employees actually know how to work remotely will go a long way in validating the effectiveness of your BCP plan.
There are a few different options for remote access, notably Virtual Private Network (VPN), Citrix, and Outlook Web Access (OWA).
VPN: IPSec or SSL VPN technologies work by connecting your home computer to that which resides in your office. You are able to “remote desktop” and run all of the applications which live on your work computer’s server.
Citrix: With a Citrix server, you are able to log into a website via any computer and get access to the applications that live on the Citrix server in your office. When you click any application icon, it will appear as if it is running locally despite being housed on your office server.
OWA: For those companies who use Microsoft Outlook for email, you can log into OWA to access your email account from an external computer.
Whichever technology or combination of technologies your firm decides to employ for remote access, the key is ensuring your employees know how to properly use them and test them prior to a disaster.
Employee Remote Access Test
Testing remote access beforehand will make employees more comfortable with the process and ensure that any unexpected challenges are addressed before an incident impacts your office. Here are some recommended steps to have your employees follow as part of the testing process:
Validate successful communication to internal and external dependencies
Confirm full functionality of required applications
Perform all high level business functions
Confirm access to vital records
Redirect office phones to home/mobile phone
With 127 days until the Olympic Games 2012 begins, it is essential for firms and their employees stay safe and productive, organisations must have a fully planned, well-tested business continuity plan and methods to ensure your workforce can work from any location at any time.
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