During the London underground Tube bombings on 7 July 2005 the Aldgate East station bomb blast shook our Head Office building, which was located 200 yards away, but above the tracks. This resulted in the whole building being closed for seven days. The business continuity plan was invoked, and staff were relocated to other offices or stayed at home as planned. All IT services remained available and telephone lines were rerouted. However, two issues became apparent:
- The communication plan did not work. The initial cascade list was effective, but the nature of the disaster (not knowing when the office would be deemed safe for occupation) resulted in staff calling line managers daily to find out which office to commute to. The plan had not covered the impact of keeping all staff regularly up-to-date efficiently.
- The second issue was the claims team’s (the largest affected department) reliance on paper files. The team had been successfully relocated to another office and could access their system, but without the paperwork, they were unable to function effectively.
In the wake of the disaster both issues were immediately addressed.
- A new communication plan was designed where current key information about any given incident would be available on a website and a voice-mail box. Updating the information fell to the emergency management team and the responsibility of staying informed was down to individual staff members.
- The digitisation of claim files project was prioritised and given fresh focus (resources).
The subsequent testing of the BCP was a complete success.