Business Continuity Management

Many businesses run without mishap for years; no fires, no floods, the goods they rely on arrive on time, the IT functions perfectly. But what happens when all the interdependencies that a business relies on to carry out its functions fail due to an emergency situation?

What is Business Continuity Management?

Business Continuity Management is essentially a process by which those responsible for running a business take a proactive approach to emergency planning, rather than just reacting when things go wrong. The statistics all point to the same conclusion - if you don't have a plan when disaster strikes your business is unlikely to survive.  It is a process that is as important for small sole-traders as it is for multi-national corporations. Without a comprehensive BCP (Business Continuity Plan), the relative outcome for the two will be the same.

Business Continuity Management allows managers to identify the critical processes within the business and the resources they require, and then look at the risks to those processes. This enables the manager to reduce the risks as much as possible which can help prevent the incident happening in the first place or significantly reduce the impact if it does. The last stage is planning for the risks that cannot be reduced or anticipated.

Where can I get help writing my Plan?

Spelthorne Borough Council is required under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 to lead on providing support to businesses, charities and voluntary organisations with regard to business continuity. This includes providing advice and signposting to further help, but does not include writing the plan itself.

For more information, please contact info@appliedresilience.org

Influenza can have a major effect on staffing levels, thus posing a threat to Business Continuity. The Cabinet Office has produced 'A Pandemic Influenza Checklist for Businesses', which is a quick and easy guide on how to look after your staff in times of an outbreak, and help them to look after themselves. You can download this document from the National Archives.

What happens next?

Even if you are confident that you have robust contingencies in place to mitigate against emergencies and their undesirable effects, there is no room for complacency. It is essential to realise that any Business Continuity Plan is a living document, which must be revised at regular intervals, or when it is clear that a situation has changed.

Similarly, just because you have a pre-determined plan of action, don't assume everybody else does! Don't be afraid to ask your key suppliers about their plans to cope in times of stress or emergency. There is little use in you having all your premises, staff and IT functioning perfectly, if you have nothing to sell. This highlights the importance of universal Business Continuity Management within business communities.

Further information about Business Continuity

The Business Continuity Institute (BCI), Continuity Central and Central Government all provide a wealth of information, including training, webinars, news and advice.

BCI Knowledge Bank has a range of documents which can help you focus on what needs to be done in order to create a resilient business.

Central Government also offer information, advice and a regular newsletter which you can sign up for.