An EA Response to the Pandemic: CSL Behring

May 7, 2020
Written by
Razvan Mitache
Razvan Mitache

An EA Response to the Pandemic: CSL Behring

CSL Behring is part of CSL Limited, the world’s third largest biotech company. CSL has over 25,000 employees with operations in more than 35 countries and annual revenues close to $9 billion. When COVID-19 started to grow into a worldwide pandemic, as an organization, CSL Behring reacted in a globally-coordinated manner to ensure that any negative impact to their business would be minimized.

Answering the crisis

This was an enterprise-wide resilience initiative, owned by a pandemic response taskforce, headed by the Head of Enterprise Security. As part of the program, there were active communications reaching all employees, and the taskforce kept a close eye on what was happening across the supply chain and across the enterprise.

The challenge for the Enterprise Architecture team

From an IT perspective, the IT Leadership Team entrusted the Enterprise Architecture team with a clear mission – the Head of Enterprise Architecture was to collaborate with other IT Leaders, establish a taskforce and define an effective pandemic response plan for the business technology (IT) organization. The team embraced the opportunity and before long, they came up with three well-defined work streams.

Remote working

The first one was remote working. As part of the “Work From Home” initiative, the team focused on creating capacity. Some of the questions that were addressed included: Do we have enough network capacity? Do we have enough VPN capacity? Do we have enough IT inventory to meet everyone’s needs? Also, since there were many people working from home, the company considered carefully whether the service desk would cope with the significant spike in activity that was expected, and the Service Desk leaders had to figure out how to accommodate that as well.

Business continuity

The second workstream that was identified was centered on business continuity. The EA team along with the Enterprise Applications team analyzed the enterprise application portfolio, and identified about 100 applications that were deemed business critical. Out of those, some 20 to 25 were further highlighted, which were deemed of ultimate importance for their ability to operate as a business. Once the team had these on the radar, they focused on making absolutely sure that CSL Behring employees would have access to these in their homes, under any and all circumstances.

CSL Behring also operates a private data center, leading to a significant on-premise footprint. That was yet another area for which the Data Services Leader had to ensure uptime and create adequate contingency plans. And again, the organization saw no negative business impact, which speaks to the speed and depth of their preparation.

To further safeguard against negative scenarios, CSL Behring also revisited their Disaster Recovery plans, Business Continuity plans, and Standard Operating Procedures, to ensure no disruption to business whatsoever. Even now, at the time of this being written, they continuously monitor the situation in order to ensure they’re addressing the dynamic needs of this difficult and fluid situation the right way.

Successful communication

The third work stream that was defined was around appropriate communication. The EA team recognized that maintaining proper contact during these special circumstances was vital, so they created a dedicated workstream and aimed their attention towards creating useful guides for the Work From Home audience. The Communications workstream lead worked with cross-functional team members as to what employees’ needs might be in this area, and what collaboration platforms they’re using so they produced content addressing the most likely needs. These guides addressed how to maximize the functionality of certain software, how to connect home infrastructure to their work machines (printers, for example) and so on. This was very welcome by everyone for obvious reasons.

It’s worth noting that they also developed communications addressing the cybersecurity needs of a large enterprise in the 21st century. After all, cyberattacks are becoming increasingly more problematic, so CSL Behring created specific communications guides on raising awareness around phishing attempts, under the guidance of the organization’s Cybersecurity leaders, making it clear to end-users what the risks are, what behavior to avoid, how to make certain they are not sharing private information, etc.

Keeping things under control

By collaborating effectively across several cross-functional teams, the EA team created a practical pandemic response plan from the business technology (IT) perspective. As a result, CSL Behring didn’t suffer any significant loss in productivity and as it stands currently, they are well-prepared for the type of challenges that one might expect during these times of social distancing.