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Business continuity

Business owners can prepare a business continuity management (BCM) plan to increase your chances of coping in a crisis.

business continuity

BCM is a holistic management process that identifies potential threats to your business. It provides a framework for building resilience with the capability of an effective response that protects its key stakeholders.

A common misconception is that BCM merely encompasses backup and recovery plans and that external consultants are needed to do this. However, BCM covers much more than that. Provided you know your business environment, it can be inexpensive and relatively simple to implement.

Here is a guide to improve your organisation's flexibility and readiness to increase your chances of coping with an incident. It is ideal for business owners, managers and business continuity leads of organisations located within the London Borough of Hillingdon.

Prevention

Business continuity planning is a process of identifying and evaluating the risks your business faces and then developing procedures to enable the business to continue operating (and recover) if the worst happens.

The commonly practiced way to identify and evaluate the risks is to complete a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). This analysis is undertaken to review what key products and services the organisation provides that, if disrupted, would have the largest impact on the organisation. The impact is documented for different periods, and then the maximum length of time that the organisation can manage the disruption without it threatening the organisations viability, either economically or through loss of character.

Following this, organisations should document and quantify critical activities that are required to deliver these key products and services and identify a time period that this should be done within.

  • Alongside undertaking BIAs and other internal reviews to assist in business continuity, work can be done to mitigate against incidents affecting your buildings and operations
  • Review your flood protection in your local area in conjunction with the Environment Agency
  • Review your transport arrangements for getting staff to and from work
  • Review the way your technology is protected (from attack / water / power failure)
  • Finally, review your stakeholders (suppliers and partners) to ensure that you have suitable alternatives for sourcing materials etc.

Warning

One of the best ways to successfully respond to an incident is to ensure you are made aware of it at an early stage. By getting accurate and timely forecasts (Met Office), Floodline alerts (Environment Agency) and warnings from other agencies, you are able to prepare your business to react effectively.

  • Floodline (Environment Agency - 0345 988 1188)

Response

For your business to continue effectively beyond an incident (and potentially throughout), it is best to respond quickly and appropriately. By ensuring that all members of staff are aware of the incident and know their roles and responsibilities, your business can continue to operate (even at a reduced level).

Within a Business continuity plan there are several key sections which should be included:

Invocation/activation procedures

  • How the plan will be invoked should be detailed, including who has the authority to activate the procedures within the organisation and under what circumstances. A focus on activating teams as quickly as possible should be considered to ensure there are no delays in mobilisation that may affect the overall response.

Contact details

  • The plan should include essential contact details of all stakeholders especially of staff who are involved in the activation of this plan.

Incident management

Tasks that will be required to manage the initial phases should be documented - including the details of the individuals responsible for each task. This may include:

  • Site evacuation procedures
  • Mobilisation of first aid, safety or evacuation teams locating and accounting for those who were on the site
  • Ongoing employee/customer communications and safety briefings
  • Plans for communicating with all relevant staff should be detailed as well as for wider stakeholders and media if required
  • Consideration needs to be given to anyone with disabilities or other specific needs
  • A room/location/space should be identified that can be the focal point for where the organisation's response should be managed.

Further to this an alternative should be nominated in case the original is unavailable. Both locations should have appropriate resources to assist in the incident management such as telecommunications, computers and stationary with which the incident management responders can initiate the response. 

Business continuity and recovery

  • Plans should outline the critical activities to be recovered (including timescales and recovery levels required), the resources available throughout the response (including processes for mobilising the resources) and detail the actions and tasks needed to ensure the continuity and recovery of your critical activities. 

Evacuation

In the event of your business requiring evacuation you may be required to leave your premises.

  • Larger businesses may be able to afford off site alternative locations - either within their own businesses facilities or through a dedicated companies facilities for this sort of situation. For a smaller business, alternative premises may be more difficult (consider all possibilities including borrowing office space or working from home options).
  • Shops may need to look for alternative options for trading in the event of an incident affecting their premises. More details can be found by using the links on the right.
  • There are many benefits to enabling your workforce to operate from home which include reduce transport issues during an incident, more available workspaces, less requirements for additional alternative locations.

Recovery

In the event of your premises being flooded, there is likely to be some damage internally and externally of your buildings. Ensure that your plans have in place the processes for getting insurance and other associated organisations to review the damage as quickly as possible so that repairs can be made in an appropriate time period to get the organisation operating as quickly as possible.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 12 Jun 2017 at 10:44