What is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is about having a plan to deal with difficult situations. So an organisation can continue to function with as little disruption as possible.
For example, if you lost access to your building for any reason, can you still operate? 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?
Why all businesses should maintain Business Continuity Plans
A good BC plan recognises potential threats to an organisation and analyses what impact they may have on day-to-day operations.
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% to 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?
How can I prepare my business for emergencies?
In summary, these are steps you should be considering:
- Review your organisation. Consider its aims and objectives and those people who have an interest in how you run your business. Next, identify those business processes without which your business would fail or be hampered.
- Consider current staffing and resource levels (computers, software, telephones, equipment, machinery, vehicles, supplies). Calculate the minimum you would need to be able to keep your business running. Calculate the time by which you need to get the most important aspects of your business up and running.
- Identify the risks to your business. For example computer outage, not enough staff, are you in a flood plain, are you at a high risk of fire or arson.
- Develop arrangements and put alternatives in place to reduce or avoid the risks. e.g. 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.
- Train your staff to understand what these plans mean and any specific roles they might assume during or after a disruption has occurred.
- Test the plan and regularly review and update it. It is a living document.
Links to further information
- Business Continuity Institute. This includes good practice guidelines
- Business Continuity Forum. This includes news, updates and general advice.
- Get Safe Online. This website raises awareness on how to improve your IT security.
- Cabinet Office guidance about planning for emergencies. This website includes information about emergency preparedness policy and procedures.
Business Continuity Guidance
Business Continuity for Dummies is a guide for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). 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 ‘how to’ measures to deal with disruptions caused by challenges. For example, flooding, severe weather and pandemic flu outbreak.
Please note: This is not free advice. It is likely there will be a cost associated with this product.
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