Here at CMAC, this topic really resonates with us… We rely heavily on third parties so the need to collaborate effectively and routinely with our critical suppliers is vital in reassuring us that our third parties are well-prepared and able to maintain essential services during times of crisis.

A number of CMAC’s existing clients are using our hotel and transportation services right now so the current COVID-19 lockdown has highlighted all too well how important maintaining that supplier / customer relationship is so that we have total confidence when invoking our contingency plans!

We already undertake regular due diligence checks with our critical third parties, but this current crisis is making us more aware and wanting to take it to the next level!

Relationships are a Two-Way Street!

We also know that it works both ways! Our customers want that same reassurance from us as one of their critical suppliers, knowing that CMAC can deliver and support them in times of need.

The nature of our business is such that we’re very used to responding to somebody else’s ‘crisis’ but this time with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re impacted too!

Developing our own Business Impact Analysis (BIA) has been crucial to our business, enabling us to fully understand our customers and supplier requirements.  Being an emergency response service provider, it's our responsibility to be ahead of our own game so we can keep ahead of our customers and suppliers and make sure all SLA’s (service level agreements) are maintained.  Fast mobilisation and strong communication with robust systems is key to making the plan work!  It's necessary to think and plan in advance but we can't be naive to think the plan itself doesn’t have its hurdles - We have to think on our feet and be ready for any ‘curve balls’ that an incident, or a customer, or a supplier might throw at us on the day!

CMAC’s Response to COVID-19

As the current COVID-19 situation evolved and the implications became clear, we reviewed our plan and rehearsed our homeworking capabilities with a small team. With those reassurances, we activated our plan until all employees were productively, safely and securely working from home.

All operational information we use on a day-to-day basis is accessed via our network to make sure there is no impact on customers. Communication between all our key stakeholders has of course increased too. 

There are two important factors which have enabled us to maintain critical services in the face of this and other events - Availability and communication.

The availability of our own internal systems, people and processes but also, those of our partners and customers. CMAC’s IT service resilience incorporates:

  • Cloud hosting across multiple regions which are both concurrently active or have the ability to fail-over to a secondary location in the event of a large-scale outage.
  • Accessibility from a variety of devices and locations

CMAC’s VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephony infrastructure is provided in the same way, ensuring service continuity. Communication can take many forms and our multi-channel approach provide staff and customers with a variety of options, including email, telephone, chat and conferencing technology. We also provide a range of self-service options, including our bespoke Customer Booking App, whereby customers have the information they need to hand removing the need to contact us altogether in some cases. 

Having operational teams who are not co-located in the same building has meant we have increased our use of internal ‘chat’ and job management systems employ real-time updates via web ‘push’ notifications, ensuring that information is disseminated immediately.

Third Party Relationships

CMAC already has a focused Supplier Audit Programme which delivers ongoing checks and due diligence to ensure that all our third parties have the required standards in place. These include all aspects of vehicle maintenance, licensing, company policy checks, driver hours and fatigue management, vehicle history and spot checks, health & safety, dispatch communications and customer service.

However, we want to be sure that we’re doing everything we can to build even stronger relationships … Not just with our suppliers, but with our customers too!

So, with that said, we plan to work even harder to secure a more proactive and ongoing collaboration with our customers through a new Operational Resilience Professional Services offering. We want to be sure that all new and existing customers are fully onboarded, emergency response and service activation plans clear and agreed. What’s more, we are looking at ways to incentivise our customers to regularly rehearse the services they have with us so that they truly see the value that we bring to their operational resilience capabilities…

No business stands still, our relationships with suppliers and customers change, and service offerings evolve – So, it’s really important that we continue to build and maintain those strong relationships.

I think it’s fair to say that a lot of great lessons will emerge out of the COVID-19 crisis for all organisations and CMAC are for sure, taking these onboard!