Business Continuity Planning
What is Business Continuity Planning?
Business continuity planning simply means anticipating the crises and problems that could affect a business if a disaster should happen - for example a flood, a long term power cut, a terrorist attack. If a firm prepares for events that could halt the business it is in a far better position to continue to function in an emergency.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan is looks at all critical areas of the business and outlines clear roles and responsibilities for everyone involved. It also lists emergency services and contingencies so that essential business activities can continue. Staff safety should be a top priority in any continuity plan. Depending on the business, plans can be simple and be kept with other company policies and updated regularly.
Why don’t many small business make continuity plans?
The reasons are varied, but many small businesses believe they do not have the time, the experience or the resources to make a plan. Often small businesses over-estimate how well they will do in the event of an emergency and do not realise how overwhelming the problems can be. Many firms believe that either the problems that will affect them are too small to bother with, or are too big to deal with – for example a terrorist attack. Also, many small companies do not even have basic plans and policies in place and are not up together on current legislation, let alone planning for crises that may not happen.
Why should my small firm consider a Business Continuity Plan?
Businesses need to be flexible and think just as much about protecting themselves as growing the business. Any company needs to be strong enough to survive serious incidents such as flooding and fire and be able to re-open quickly if a disaster does happen.
In addition the new Companies Bill will put more pressure on directors to have such plans in place.
Commercially it makes good sense. If you have a business continuity plan in place – and the largest firms most certainly do – you are more likely to get business from the big players who will be reassured you are planning for all contingencies.
What is the difference between a disaster plan and a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan will ensure any crisis is managed carefully before it becomes a disaster. It will address all the requirements essential to keeping the business running, including ways and means of keeping disruption to clients and employees to a minimum. Disaster recovery plans for small businesses usually focus on IT recovery of the businesses such as back up systems.
My business is very small, why should I bother?
It doesn’t matter what size your business is you must protect it. Small firms are in fact the most vulnerable because they don’t have the back up of resources and facilities that larger companies can rely on. Any incident can impact on your business, and if profits plunge what will happen to you and your staff?
What if I can’t afford a business continuity plan?
It can be simple and cheap to make a plan. There are free downloads to help, and local authorities have an obligation to help. The main thing is to think the unthinkable, put a policy in place and review it every six months or so.
Where can I get more information?
The websites below are very useful and will provide you with lots of information. Think about your particular business situation and adapt as necessary. The Axa site in particular has lots of helpful information for small businesses uncertain about continuity planning.
British Insurance Brokers Association. Provides useful information on business resilience.
Lots of information to help businesses, plus a new business continuity assessment available online.