SME Spotlight

In case of disruption, it's all systems go

Mr Sim says that with business continuity management plans in place, Sanli M&E Engineering is more confident of taking on bigger and more complex projects in Singapore, and may venture into new markets
Mr Sim says that with business continuity management plans in place, Sanli M&E Engineering is more confident of taking on bigger and more complex projects in Singapore, and may venture into new markets.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

IT processes are central to water-management solutions firm Sanli M&E Engineering's operations. Managing director Sim Hock Heng tells Sheryl Lee about the business continuity management plans in place in the event of a disruption.

Q When was Sanli started and who are your clients?

A We started in 2006 with a start-up capital of $30,000. We had eight staff, and now have 350 employees. We mostly handle government contracts from the Public Utilities Board and National Environment Agency.

We provide water-management solutions, including potable and waste-water treatment. We also provide construction and maintenance services for the related facilities and equipment.

Our revenue for the last financial year was $60 million.

Q Why did you develop your business continuity management (BCM) programme?

A As a local SME, we didn't have the luxury of having established procedures over the years, unlike multinational corporations or the government sectors.

As we grew and took on more and bigger projects, we realised the importance of having plans in place to ensure our operations are not interrupted in the event of a disruption.

Q How does your BCM programme help you to deal with disruptions?

A Before BCM, information critical to our continued operations, such as construction drawings, was saved in employees' desktops and not backed up.

CRUCIAL INFORMATION BACKED UP

Before BCM, information critical to our continued operations, such as construction drawings, was saved in employees' desktops and not backed up. As part of our BCM programme, employees now save their work on the company server, which is housed in our office here in Joo Koon.

MANAGING DIRECTOR SIM HOCK HENG, on what his company has done as part of its business continuity management programme.

As part of our BCM programme, employees now save their work on the company server, which is housed in our office here in Jurong.

We've also engaged an IT vendor to develop a back-up server housed in an alternative site. If anything happens here, for example if there is a fire, all our data is saved in the other offsite server.

Nothing will be lost and we can simply relocate to our alternative office in Tuas and continue operating without interruptions.

This is especially important to us because as a contractor, we cannot afford to lose information like data or drawings related to our projects.

If we lose this information, we would have to spend time redoing it and that would delay progress.

BCM also allows us to be proactive rather than reactive.

We've developed a step-by-step manual that tells staff what to do in the event of disruptions or crises. The manual includes details on the role each employee plays - for example, fire warden or company spokesman - in different situations.

Apart from having procedures in place, we carry out drills and exercises. This keeps us from feeling lost if there are sudden disruptions, helping us to better handle unexpected problems.

We have a fully owned subsidiary in Malaysia and we've saved its project information on our company and back-up server as well, to standardise company operations.

The BCM programme is not required by my Malaysian customers.

I think having the programme in place and going above and beyond the standards required in the country help reassure customers and boost their confidence in our services.

Q How did you come up with this programme?

A We developed our BCM programme with funding from Spring Singapore's Capability Development Grant. The programme took eight months to develop from initialisation to certification and cost around a five-figure sum, 75 per cent of which was funded by the Government.

We got the certification last August from external auditors.

Q What are Sanli's growth plans?

A At the moment, we are focusing more on Singapore. The Government has many water infrastructure projects planned.

But with BCM in place, we're more confident of taking on bigger and more complex projects here, and may venture into new markets.

Singapore is a well-known "water hub". Water is a global issue and we see opportunities in South-east Asia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline 'In case of disruption, it's all systems go'. Print Edition | Subscribe