BC: More than IT
It was business as usual at Godrej Industries during the
July 26 floods last year that brought Mumbai to a halt. A look at how the company
Godrej Industries business continuity plan is divided
into two. The first part looks at the non-technical side of business continuity
such as suppliers and distributors since Godrej depends on suppliers who provide
vital ingredients for its business.
The BCP involved here is to find alternatives in case the
supplier says that it does not want to work with the company anymore, or if
it goes out of business. In that case, other suppliers are identified and materials
are sourced from them after checking whether they match the companys specifications.
The other part of BCP is technology-related. Here, all the major processes or
areas critical to the companys day-to-day operations (such as logistics,
supply of key items, IT and despatches) are included in the DR set-up. This
is critical since their disruption can bring the business to its knees.
Billing takes place all over the country. To avoid the situation of billing
not being possible from a particular Carry and Forwarding Agent (CFA) who has
been affected, backups are done daily.
For this, an authorised person takes the call that billing is affected, and
that it must be done from another location. The alternative procedure entails
an elaborate recovery plan. This plan first identifies the disaster levels and
then guides the emergency alternative procedures. Godrej uses the Reliance Data
Centre in Navi Mumbai for backups.
A joint team consisting of personnel from corporate audit, assurance and IT
looks after DR. The team visits locations, creates awareness, and conducts educational
sessions to inform staff of the risks involved. Topics covered include vulnerable
areas, how certain processes run in times of disaster, their criticality, and
their impact on the business.
The team disseminates the standard operating procedures (SOP)
to be implemented in case of a disaster. Some of the areas covered include how
to take a call and whether there is an alternative emergency procedure to be
adopted. There is an elaborate recovery plan which first identifies the disaster
levels. Emergency personnel are trained in how to return to normalcy when the
disaster abates. The moment a disaster strikes, there is a champion who
is nominated by the SOP to take a call and identify the disaster, and put emergency
plans into action as per the intensity of the disaster, explains Mani
Mulki, General Manager, Information Systems, Godrej Industries.
Two types of mock tests are conducted on a yearly basis. The first is the informed
mock test where a site is informed that there are going to be DRP drills on
a specified date. This is done by a team consisting of the corporate audit and
IT departments. The team goes to a particular location and brings the required
infrastructure to a standstill. This helps them see the emergency procedures
in place to ensure that business operations do not come to a halt. All this
is reviewed and a report is prepared.
The other is a surprise mock test where the team goes unannounced to a particular
location and conducts drills to see how they are managing. There is a periodical
summary report which goes to the business head.
For identifying potential threats, an evolved and detailed risk management assessment
is done regularly. The processes and stringency depend on the risk involved.
At present Godrej has a warm site. It has operations at 45 locations. These
locations send back a database instance to the servers hosted at the data centre
at the end of each day; this ensures that data is replicated. Backups of the
ERP database for a particular location are preserved at another location.
The most important part of Godrejs business is goods shipment. This was
not affected since Godrejs key processes were hosted at the data centre
which was safe from flooding. Since the Internet was working, people could still
take stock of the situation and give instructions. Even though Godrejs
warehouses and CFAs located in Mumbai were flooded, it was still possible to
make decisions because the data was stored in the central server which was accessible
from anywhere. Business operations thus continued without a hitch.