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prepare your business

Preparing Your Business

What is Business Continuity Management (BCM)?

Business Continuity Management is often described as ‘just common sense’. It is about taking responsibility for your business and enabling it to stay on course whatever situation it is forced to face. It is about “keeping calm and carrying on”! 

BCM is about building and improving resilience in your business; it’s about identifying your key products and services and the most urgent activities that underpin them and then. Once that ‘analysis’ is complete, it is about devising plans and strategies that will enable you to continue your business operations and enable you to recover quickly and effectively from any type disruption whatever its size or cause. It gives you a solid framework to lean on in times of crisis and provides stability and security. In fact, embedding BCM into your business is proven to bring business benefits.

Business Continuity is a necessary and important management process that helps keep an organisation going even in the most trying of times.

Business Continuity plans are put in place to ensure that you can keep your own business going, possibly scaled down to critical services, in the event of an emergency.

Make sure you can access your business continuity plans in and out of hours and in the event of an IT failure (up to date hard copies). 

The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) recommends following the 'Business Continuity Management' lifecycle below...

What could possibly go wrong?

  • Power outage (loss of technology use: communications and data)
  • Burst water pipes in buildings (denial of access, damage to property/documents/hardware etc)
  • Fire (loss of life, denial of access, damage to property/documents/hardware etc)
  • Severe weather (absence of staff, absence of support staff/services/critical supplier failures etc)
  • Loss of key personnel (loss of knowledge/skills)
  • Flu pandemic (loss of life, absence of staff, loss of knowledge/skills, fuel shortage, absence of support staff/services, critical supplier failures etc).
    (Note: All disruptions have the potential impact of a reduction in, or inability to maintain, functions and service deliverables). 

Top tips for preparing your business 

1. Get suitable insurance

Make sure you are covered before an emergency has even occurred

How quickly could your business get back to normal?

What does your insurance really cover?

Remember: insurance will not cover you for the loss of your reputation.

2. Risk assessment

What are the hazards and threats that could potentially disrupt your business?

What is the likelihood that such events could happen and what would the impact be on your business?

3. Make an Emergency plan

Plan ahead

If you don’t have a business continuity plan – it is time to start one. Your plan should contain:

  • Out of hours contact details for staff, customers and suppliers
  • Prepare a communications plan – who will you contact in an emergency and what will you say
  • Multi-skilled staff – can your staff carry out different roles in your business
  • Identify contingency staff – where else can you get trained staff from
  • Document procedures – prepare ‘how to guides’ so staff can follow steps to complete each other’s activities
  • Agreed relocation options – if you can’t access your premises, where else can you go
  • Remote access to ICT / cloud based technology – can you access your computer network from different locations
  • Secure offsite data storage – back up your computer systems and store back up tapes in fireproof cabinets in another location
  • Alternative suppliers – where will you get your equipment if a supplier stops trading
  • Emergency grab bags - Keep important documents and plans together and in place where you can access them quickly in an emergency 

Steps to make an emergency plan:

Analyse your business

The first step towards developing a Business Continuity Plan is a really good look at what your business does and what resources you need to do it. 

  1. List and prioritise your business activities
  2. How long can you cope without doing each activity before your business cannot recover?
  3. How many staff support those activities?
  4. What ICT do you need to do the job?
  5. What specialist equipment or other resources do you need? 
  6. What office / factory space do you need?
  7. What vehicles / plant do you need?
  8. Which suppliers do you use? 

Design your plan

Once you have understood your business and its vulnerabilities you need to look at some ways to protect yourself. This could include...

  1. Contact details for keeping your staff aware of events
  2. Details of evacuation routes or alternative premises
  3. Manual processes that can be used if you lose power or IT
  4. Details of external organisations that can help you
  5. Inventories of equipment so you know what to replace
  6. Working out what infrastructure you could put in place to make your business more resilient, e.g. power generators. 

Implement your plan

Once you have worked out what you need to do the next step is to do it. You will need to work out what is affordable and practical. Bear in mind that some things will be very straightforward to implement, whereas others may take longer to put in place. 

Train your staff

Do all your staff know what the business continuity plan is? 

Validate your plans

It is all well and good having plans, but how do you know they work? The best way to do this is to test them. This will also help to make sure that your staff understand their roles within the plans. An obvious exercise is to think about what you would do during a fire. This can easily be added on to one of your standard fire drills. Carry out the evacuation, and then think about what you would do if you couldn't re-enter the building.


Find out More

For further information on Business Continuity Management click on the links below.


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