Business Continuity Planning
Read our guide to creating a business continuity plan so when disaster strikes you can minimise the impact it has on your business.
Why create a Business Continuity Plan?
Unfortunately, there are a number of disasters, such as fire, storms, flooding, or terrorism, which could lead to you having to shut your premises for a considerable amount of time. This could have the following effects:
- Loss of revenue
- Loss of your competitive advantage
- Loss of staff
- Reputational damage
- Penalties and fines from regulators
Creating a business continuity plan can help you minimise these effects on your organisations and even prevent the risk of them happening in the first place.
Conduct a Risk Assessment
The first step is to conduct a risk assessment to identify the likelihood of common disasters that might affect your organisation.
Once the risks have been identified you will need to consider the impact each risk could have and prioritise accordingly in your Business Continuity Plan.
Business Continuity Plan Structure and roles
The plan should sit within a Business Continuity Management Programme including a Business Continuity Policy which defines the clear roles and responsibilities of those involved in response to any disaster, the timescales for recovery of your activities and the budget available to support this. A named senior manager should be assigned responsibility for all aspects of the programme.
Appoint a team from senior management with a good understanding of the organisation to develop and implement the plan. The team should:
- Have commitment from the top
- Ensure allocation of resources
- Consist of representatives from all principal areas of the organisation
- Receive appropriate training
Appoint a Business Continuity Plan Coordinator. This is the person in charge of the team. They should be a senior executive and have appropriate authority to ensure decisions are implemented immediately.
Objectives of the Business Continuity Plan
The objectives of the plan are to enable the organisation to:
- Continue to work as normally as possible
- Progress back to normal working with as short as delay as possible
- Cause the least possible convenience to all parties
- Minimise the risks of accident, injury, or ill health to all
Creating your Business Continuity Plan
Your Business Continuity Plans should consist of two parts, the emergency plan, and the recovery plan.
Key elements of the emergency plan:
- Evacuation procedure
- Treatment of casualties
- Hazardous substances
- Temporary accommodation
- Telephone tree
- Protection of property
- Claims notification
- Useful telephone numbers
Key elements of the recovery plan:
- Alternative premises
- Plant, machinery, equipment
- IT recovery plan
- Telephones and communication equipment
Firstly, once the policy has been signed off by senior management the broad objectives of the plan should be communicated to all staff.
If disaster does occur it is important to keep everyone informed of the organisation’s progress towards full recovery via newsletters, telephone calls, social media, text, email, intranets, and websites.
It is important to keep suppliers and royal mailed informed especially with regards delivery arrangements.
Distribution and storage of your Business Continuity Plan
Full copies of the Business Continuity Plan should be kept by the coordinator and the deputy coordinator both on and off site, ideally in fire-resisting cabinets. Each member of the team should also have a copy.
- The plan should be regularly reviewed and updated annually if not more frequently
- The plan should also be regularly assessed, via desktop exercises, on a regular basis