Business continuity

Your plan should consider specific risks but your planning should focus on the outcomes of disruption not its causes. Check Expecting the Unexpected (1.47 MB) for a checklist and useful ideas on matching key business continuity management processes to your company. 

Step one

Business Impact Analysis. This is a tool to used understand your most critical activities and the resources needed to carry out these activities. It helps to evaluate recovery priorities and assess risks that could lead to a business disruption. Understand your organisation by identifying:

  • The role of your organisation and what it delivers
  • The impact over time if certain activities were interrupted
  • The risks to service delivery such as relying on a single supplier
  • Primary customers
  • Key staff and suppliers that are needed to complete vital tasks
  • Most profitable products and services, as well as the processes need to produce them
  • Infrastructure such as IT

Step two

Measure the risk through recognising:

  • Likelihood of failure
  • Impact on business
  • Maximum period of failure that could be sustained
  • The worst case scenario

Step three

The strategy should consider:

  • Evacuation procedure
  • First aid
  • Support for the most vulnerable
  • A communications plan
  • Delegating normal duties of those in charge

Long-term responses should plan:

  • A safe alternative facility for workers
  • How to access to documents and IT facilities
  • Arrangements for order completion, financial transactions and production
  • Procedures for re-introduction of standard operations

Step four

Construct a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

A BCP is about having a process in place to deal with challenging circumstances to allow your business to function with as little disruption as possible.

Benefits:

  • Allowing ‘business as usual’ to continue
  • Reduces the potential for financial loss
  • Helps maintain a good reputation
  • Increases staff confidence
  • Avoids bad publicity
  • Can sometimes reduce your insurance premium, so it may be worth checking with your provider

It is a good idea to consider local risks as part of business continuity planning, for example, are your premises located in a flood zone?

A BCP is not considered valid until it has been tested. The whole point of an exercise is to see if the plan actually works. It is pointless to invest time and energy in writing a plan if nobody knows about it or uses it!

Identify someone to take ownership of the plan and maintenance programme. The plan should be reviewed at least once a year. Organisations change all the time, so it is important that your plan reflects these changes.