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OpenGov speaks to Matthew Shaw, Ministry of Social Development, New Zealand

Business Continuity and Preparedness is essential for any organisation to have in place.

In New Zealand, this is even more important within the public sector. This is due to many central Government offices being located in one of the most vulnerable parts of New Zealand, within the city of Wellington.

OpenGov had the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Matthew Shaw, Senior Advisor – Business Continuity, Ministry of Social Development, New Zealand this past week.

Mr. Shaw told OpenGov more about what his position as Senior Advisor entails, the BCI Good Practice Guide, what the future holds for him, and his role as Chair in the Government Sector Business Continuity Group.

Consolidating Business Continuity: Business as usual in the Ministry of Social Development

Mr. Shaw plays a huge part in facilitating business continuity preparedness and management in his role as Senior Advisor for Business Continuity.

For the last 8 years, Matt has led the business continuity management programme at the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). This is New Zealand’s largest government department. They provide employment services, income support and care and protection of vulnerable children and young people.

Some highlights during this time have included implementing an across-Ministry Crisis Management and BCM programme, facilitating crisis exercises and training staff along with contributing to the Ministry’s emergency management responses to numerous events including the Canterbury earthquakes. During this time Matt has also been seconded to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Ministry of Education to lead crisis management and business continuity planning.

Mr. Shaw is using his role as a platform to transform the business continuity management common practices. “We are looking for a process to revalidate all critical functions,” Mr. Shaw tells us. “We are taking a different approach now. We have done business impact analysis where we go to people and ask questions like what are the resources you need, what is the strategy you have in place… Now, we are loading it all in one and asking questions like, what is it you do that is critical? We use to delve into so much detail but this allows for a more efficient evaluation process.”

In discussing standards, the BCI Good Practice Guide has been around for a number of years. It incorporates terminology from the ISO 22301:2012 International Standard for Business Continuity management systems. It is a practical guide for a building a business continuity framework within an organisation.

“This is a resource made available to the members of the BCI. They also provide a light version, free to anyone on their website. It is a practical way for implementing a BCM framework,” said Mr. Shaw. Mr. Shaw uses this guide to organise the crisis management arrangement. His team plays a huge role in supporting colleagues and corresponding emergency management.

Moving forward, Mr. Shaw and his team are looking forward to launching a new client management system for their staff to use. “This has more of an angle of helping the business implement a good system, which is reactive,” says Mr. Shaw, “This will be out early next year. It is quite a significant change in the management of day to day business.”

Contingency Planning for better Business Continuity Management

Due to the number of fault lines that are sitting beneath the government capital of Wellington, working in the realm of business continuity management has required Mr. Shaw to look at contingency planning as well.

Mr. Shaw emphasised the importance of being able to pick up and transfer their network, in case there was a crisis to occur. “A piece of work for me is writing a contingency plan,” says Mr. Shaw, “To run exercises for this requires a lot of planning. We are aiming to start running these at the end of quarter 1 for 2016. From this, we will identify the gaps and work on them through this exercise. This will drive the [contingency planning] program for a year.”

Moving to his across-Ministry Crisis Management and BCM programme, Mr. Shaw says, “We are trying to create a more collective across government approach to Business Continuity. The approach is basically the same all across but people have different critical priorities which deviate from a standard. This project will drive a lot of work going forward but the initial phase is to begin next April.”

In the Business Continuity area, Mr. Shaw is trying to get people to adopt the thinking that they are not safe from any threats. This mentality is very similar to what the world of cybersecurity is emphasising, which is to assume that you are vulnerable. As Mr. Shaw said, “It is starting to process through. Now, working in the eProcurement space, are starting to think about contingency as a service… It is becoming more common that people are thinking about this space but we still have a long way to go”

Bringing the Business Continuity community together

In addition to his day job, Matt is the current Chair of the Government Sector Business Continuity Group, a networking forum with over 90 BC practitioners from 40 government agencies, local government and state-owned enterprises.

Mr. Shaw helps to facilitate regular meetings between members of the group every second of the month. In the meetings, members discuss their area of business continuity in more detail, or simply give each other updates on their work. The meetings provides a space for members to network with each other in their common field.

“We have a steering committee formed by 9 of our members. We get together in between meetings to plan the program and formulate strategic goals of the group,” “We are creating common goals, cross-agency programs, doing work with the property sector and banking sector…It is very much a community of interests, where we do not have a mandate but we look at how government is dealing with Business Continuity Management.”

Through his leadership roles and management, Mr. Shaw has created a shift in mindset. He challenges people to think more about the overall picture when it comes to Business Continuity. This allows for Mr. Shaw to create a high-level consolidated view of the business continuity management practices across the Ministry of Social Development and in the Government Sector Business Continuity Group.

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