Business continuity

Business continuity means thinking about your business and the things that could affect it and making plans to deal with them.

Your business could be affected by:

  • bad weather
  • flooding
  • fuel shortages
  • power failures
  • ICT failures
  • supply chain issues
  • staff illness.

Research shows that a good business continuity plan (BCP) can help your business survive these issues and continue to deliver your services and talk with your customers.

However big your business is, your continuity plan does not have to take a long time.

Prepare for emergencies

Being prepared does not need to be complicated and cover everything, just those that are most important.

You must keep staff informed about the emergency and the response being made.

They may be concerned about:

  • what is expected of them
  • whether they should turn up for work the following day
  • whether their job is safe.

As an employer you should consider:

  • issuing a help line number for staff to call
  • an announcement on local radio
  • a phone call to all staff
  • putting a message on staff social media groups.

Business Continuity Management (BCM)

This is a complete process that:

  • identifies potential risks and impacts of sudden disruptions that could threaten a business before they happen
  • helps a business prioritise the efforts of its workforce to achieve resilience in their areas of expertise, such as telecommunications, security, facilities and ICT
  • makes a business look at how to survive significant losses of resources, such as staff or equipment
  • provides a business with the knowledge to respond effectively in a crisis and how to safeguard the interests of key stakeholders, partners, reputation and employees
  • builds resilience into the business by providing a framework for the response to an emergency.

The aims of the process are to:

  • keep businesses running
  • help develop business-wide resilience, allowing a business to survive the loss of part or all of its operational capability.

Starting a BCP

No business is too small to have a BCP. Any incident is capable of affecting business and profitability.

Step 1 - analyse the business

Carry out a business impact analysis. This will show your key functions and services and what activities and resources are needed to deliver them.

Step 2 - assess the risks

Identify the types of risks that could affect your business and the impact they would have on your business.

Step 3 - develop the strategy

What can you do now to make sure that you are able to maintain the most important activities your business needs to run?

This may include:

  • multi-skill training your staff
  • identifying other places you could work from
  • backing up crucial data off site.

Step 4 - develop and keep developing the plan

Write your plan. Make sure you review the plan regularly.

Step 5 - train and embed your BCP in your business

Make BCP business as usual. Make sure your staff know the plans and the roles they need to play. This can be done through training and exercises.

If you do not have a BCP, your business may suffer from:

  • damaged reputation
  • a loss of trust that results from a mismanaged incident
  • a loss of work to competitors
  • exposure to failures in the supply chain
  • higher insurance premiums
  • difficulties in absorbing the costs, making it harder to recover after returning to normal operations
  • evidence that senior management is not taking responsibility for the long-term interests of staff, customers and all those who depend on the organisation.

Find out more

For further guidance on how to create a BCP, visit The Business Continuity Institute.