Getting a grip on business continuity during a crisis

By Lotte Meindertsma

In mid-March, much changed for the Netherlands. The cabinet instituted measures to control the Corona pandemic. This also had consequences for the pension administrator PGGM. Employees could no longer work in the office and there was a real risk that the pension accrual and benefits of a large proportion of (former) healthcare employees in the Netherlands would be jeopardized due to staff and ICT failures.

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PGGM's Crisis Management Team had been activated with a core workforce since late January and was taking decisions 'on sight'. That didn't feel right. This created a need for PGGM to actively start managing the risks the Corona virus posed to its operations.  

With this need, PGGM came to Highberg (formerly VKA). Highberg was already involved with PGGM for the further development of business continuity management and was now also using its knowledge in the field of data management and modeling. In order to get a better grip on the continuity of business processes, it was decided to streamline the information flows and bring them together in a Corona Dashboard.  

Basic requirements for the dashboard: the dashboard had to provide up-to-date information (daily) and be easily accessible. In addition, there was urgency. The crisis was in full swing and there was no time to think long and hard about KPIs or design.  

Agile approach to developing Corona Dashboard

Highberg chose an agile approach, where the content of the dasboard using performance indicators was set up as a framework in a short period of time. The data that was easiest to access was incorporated into the dashboard first. Because of the agile approach, a first version of the dashboard was ready within a few days. This version was then modified and modified again.  

A difficult issue was the data that was not easily accessible. Some data turned out to be easy to provide for one department but not for another. This was often due to differences in definitions used. A striking example is information about PGGM's suppliers. Which suppliers are critical to delivering output? Are these the suppliers that deliver critical processes from business impact analysis? Are they suppliers with costly contracts? Or are they suppliers that deliver enterprise-wide services? This proved a tricky puzzle, in which PGGM's business impact analysis provided a good guide but still required additional analysis. This analysis sharpened the content of the dashboard and thus made the information more useful and reliable.  

The dasboard was developed in Microsoft Power BI and made available to the Crisis Management Team. Before the Corona dasboard went live, an important step was a verbal explanation of the dashboard. This was to ensure that the users of the information gained confidence in the Corona dashboard and the information. No matter how clear a dashboard is to the creator, a difference in interpretation is easily made!  

The BI gap for decision making has narrowed

In today's day and age, the "gap" between the amount of data available and the time to make decisions is widening. More data is created and there is less time to make decisions. This 'BI gap' is at its peak in a crisis such as the current Corona crisis. In times of crisis, reliable data is critical so managers can make choices quickly. When data is so manageable, clear and reliable, decision making becomes easier.  

The latest version of the Corona Dashboard has been given a permanent place in PGGM's management information and is updated daily (automatically). The Crisis Management Team uses the dashboard in their meetings to keep a finger on the pulse. With the expected return to the office and the start of the "1.5-meter organization," the dashboard will continue to be a tool to monitor business continuity. And that gives peace of mind during this exciting time.  

For more information, please contact Lotte Meindertsma 

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