Business Continuity Advice to Businesses

What is Business Continuity?

Business continuity can be defined as ensuring that you can operate your organisation in the event of an emergency. For example, if you lost access to your building for any reason, do you hold procedures and plans that would enable you to operate your business under reduced circumstances or from other premises? What parts of your business would you need first; e.g. office or shop, specific IT system, telephone lines, staff, stock, supplier? What and how would you communicate the situation to your employees, suppliers, customers?

Business Continuity Management is a process that enables you to review your business as a whole; establishing what is important to running your organisation and identifying the most important risks to your key activities, staff, equipment, suppliers, premises, contractors, etc. This enables you to plan to avoid, reduce or mitigate risks to the important areas of running your business. It also asks you to consider the time-frames by which you must have certain parts or all of your business back up and running.

Having good insurance helps but does not provide all the answers should your business suffer any disruption. What is the effect to your business if:

  • You have 15%-40% less staff over several months due to a human flu pandemic?
  • Your key supplier goes bankrupt or suffers from unexpected staff loss?
  • A fire or flood destroys your office, computer data, stock?
  • A computer virus wipes out your ability to work via computer?

Failure to maintain or restore your business might lead to a poor reputation with your customers.

Could your business survive if you do not try to reduce or avoid the risks?

If you have put mitigating procedures in place (e.g. put up flood gates or purchased sandbags) but the risk is still there – what would you do if your office was flooded/destroyed? Have you got plans to operate out of another building/office, an agreement in place with another business to run part of your business from their shop, etc?

In summary, these are steps you should be considering:

  1. Review your organisation – consider its aims and objectives and those people who have an interest in how you run your business; i.e. including your customers, employees, banks, suppliers, contractors, insurers, etc. Next, identify those activities and business processes without which your business would fail or be seriously hampered.
  2. Consider current staffing and resource levels (computers, software, telephones, equipment, machinery, vehicles, supplies) and calculate the minimum you would need to be able to keep your business running at an acceptable level and the time by which you need to get the most important aspects of your business up and running.
  3. Identify the risks to you being able to undertake your business; e.g. computer outage, not enough staff, are you in a flood plain, are you at a high risk of fire/arson.
  4. Develop arrangements and put alternatives in place to reduce or avoid the risks to your important activities and aspects to your business; i.e. alternative premises from which to run your business and alternative key suppliers. Also include who will do what in the event of an emergency, who should be contacted and how to get hold of them. View an example of a Business Continuity Template
  5. Train your staff to understand what these plans mean and any specific roles they might assume during or after a disruption has occurred,
  6. Test the plan and regularly review and update it – it is a living document.

Current government-determined high level risks to the southwest region – do they pose a threat to your business? Should you consider putting plans into place to help your business survive:

You can find out if your property is at risk from flooding and how you can prepare for flooding from the Environment Agency. 

For more information please refer to the Department of Health Pandemic Flu leaflet

Links to further information

The Cabinet Office, in partnership with the Business Continuity Institute and Emergency Planning Society has worked to produce “Business Continuity for Dummies”. It is a guide for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Written with SMEs in mind, the guide acknowledges that smaller businesses may not have the money, time and resources to prepare for disruptions, yet the cost of dealing with them when they do arise can be significant. The guide provides simple, and for the most part inexpensive, ‘how to’ measures to deal with disruptions caused by challenges such as; flooding, severe weather and pandemic flu outbreak.

ISBN 978-1-118-48203-2
Please note: This is not free advice. It is likely there will be a cost associated with this product.