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Business continuity

Business continuity is the process of planning to ensure that your business can return to business as usual as quickly as possible following major disruption.

A disaster can strike any time, and affect any organisation large or small. It can be power outage, flood, fire, ICT failure amongst other things and it is recommended that every organisation should have some level of Business Continuity planning.

Figures released by the Federation of Small Businesses show that up to 80% of businesses affected by a major incident close within 18 months, while 90% of businesses that lose data from a disaster are forced to shut down within 2 years.

How your business can prepare

Having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place will promote confidence both in your staff and your customers that you have made plans to cover emergencies.

A BCP does not have to be complex; it is simply a set of instructions of what to do at the time of a crisis. The plan should set out clear roles and responsibilities and list a series of actions which allow key business activities to continue in the most difficult circumstances.

There is a 5 step guide to get you started with your Business Continuity planning:

  1. Analyse your Business
  2. Assess the risks
  3. Plan and Prepare
  4. Communicate your plan
  5. Testing your plan

1. Analyse your business

Look at your business and identify some critical functions of your organisation and where the business is most vulnerable.

2. Assess the risks

What are the most likely and greatest risks to the business? In Bedfordshire some of the top rated risks are flooding, severe weather and flu. Analyse the risk to your business by looking at the likelihood and impact of the hazard on your business and look at what actions your business already takes to mitigate the risk and what further actions you could do.

3. Plan and prepare

Plan for the worst case scenario; for example a fire, flood or ICT failure. Try and involve some of your staff in writing the a Business Continuity Plans (BCP). A Business Continuity Guide and template is available to make it easier to write your own Business Continuity Plan. Click on the Business Continuity Management leaflet which gives details of how to prepare a Business Continuity Plan.

4. Communicate your plan

Make sure all key staff have a copy of the plans and key people within the organisation know what their individual responsibilities are in an emergency.

5. Testing your plan

Once the plan has been completed it needs to be tested to ensure it works. A simple table top exercise can be carried out with key staff where you can run through different scenarios. Any information that needs to be changed as a result of the exercise can be made to ensure the plan is as effective as possible. The plan should be reviewed and tested every so often to account for changes within the organisation and maintain staff awareness of business continuity.

The Bedfordshire Prepared website has other practical information for businesses on how to plan for emergencies or you can visit the Business Continuity Institute for further information.