Khaled Embaby, Mahmoud Marzouk, Waleed Yasser, and Mohamed Al Awwa
The role of the business continuity management team at Xceed is to identify potential external and internal risks to the organization and set prevention and recovery plans. This role is not exclusive to planning, but rather it extends to include the management of staff and other resources with the objective of helping the organization to stay in business in the event of a disaster.
In light of the concerns of multiple political forces in Egypt about the possibility of the former president’s son coming to power, Xceed’s BCM Team considered the political unrest in Egypt as a potential risk, so they activated their plan. One precautionary measure was to follow opposition forces through various news sources and social platforms on the Internet.
There was increased social media activity as a result of the extreme dissatisfaction with the outcome of the parliamentary elections. Rumors began to spread that there would be widespread demonstrations.
Events at Xceed proceeded as follows:
January 24: The BCM team took control from the emergency operations center (EOC) at Xceed’s two sites in Egypt, Smart Village and Maadi Call Center Park, to monitor all activities that might affect the normal business flow.
January 25: The Egyptian Youth Coalition announced protests across Egypt. Xceed’s BCM action plans were immediately put in place with special consideration given to the possibility of an imposed countrywide curfew. Such a curfew would pose a major threat to the company’s ability to operate.
January 27: The Egyptian government cut off the Internet throughout the entire country including the corporate links. The resulting impairment to business function caused a dramatic impact on 30 percent of our business.
January 28: Demonstrators declared January 28 as Anger Day in reaction to the violent action taken by police forces to control the persistent and widening demonstrations. It was no misnomer. Egypt witnessed severe and violent confrontations between police forces and protestors. Around 5:00 p.m. the president announced that the Egyptian army would take over the security management of the country. As anticipated, a curfew was imposed from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. daily.
The challenge at Xceed began. At the time the curfew was imposed, 880 employees were present at the Smart Village and Maadi Call Center Park sites. It was impossible to send them home because security conditions on the roads were alarming. It was considered much safer to stay at the office. We took immediate action to accommodate those 880 employees by serving hot meals and creating sleeping areas for them. At the same time, we let all the employees call their families to inform them that they were in a safe place and would spend the night on company premises. Additionally, we decided to let employees with small children choose whether or not to come in, as we expected to face the curfew situation during
the Anger Day. Fortunately, all the employees with small children decided not to come in on this day. Accordingly with the work force management team in cooperation with the operations team scheduled only those with no small children for work.
January 29: Egypt reached the red level of security. Police forces withdrew from their positions, prisoners escaped from prisons, looters were on the streets and chaos was everywhere. Xceed’s BCM team made the decision to work with the minimum number of employees required to run operations for our critical business service, which is the Ambulance 123 Hotline. Running only the one service meant accommodating 100 employees for a potentially infinite number of days.
Relying on the previously implemented plans with new daily inputs, and with the support of members of different teams—such as administration, facility management, physical security, and IT support—continuous action was in place to keep the business running and our employees safe. For the following six days, 100 employees were accommodated at Xceed around the clock. For the next three days, 250 employees were accommodated and then over a period of twelve days, we gradually increased the number of employees present until we successfully returned to normal operations.
The BCM team managed to recover business operations successfully in the face of political unrest and despite unforeseen challenges as a result of our precautionary plans. The timing and the size of the political unrest was unexpected as the anticipated political unrest was expected to take place later in the year and at a much smaller magnitude. The chaos that resulted from the reported escape of prisoners and the widespread looting were expected and caused a major physical security threat to employees and the community. Finally, the scheduled internet outage was unexpected, but Xceed’s BCM Team managed to counteract this challenge with only a 30 percent impact on business operations.
Xceed is a global provider of quality, multi-lingual Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services. Xceed has two sites within Egypt, with its headquarters located in Cairo’s technology park, The Smart Village. Xceed has an additional contact center, geographically
and culturally proximate to Europe, at Morocco’s technology park, CasaNearshore Park.