Continuity plan and carry on


This year has underlined just how important it is for businesses to prepare for the unexpected if they are to have a chance of surviving major disruption As we have seen during the COVID-19 crisis, a business operation no matter how successful can be quickly disrupted. Whether because of a worldwide pandemic, floods, fires or power cuts, disruption to business can cost you money in the form of increased expenses, lost revenue, and loss of profit. It can also lead to regulatory fines, create delays and lose you customers. So, its a good idea to have a business continuity plan. This sets out how your company will operate during or after a disaster or emergency. It should also highlight the procedures you will follow to resume normal business as quickly as possible. Creating a plan A good continuity plan is well thought out, researched and detailed, with key data and information that will allow your business to continue running successfully. Putting such a plan together should involve: Key people: n Owners and partners: As the owner or managing director, its your responsibility to create a continuity plan for your business. If you have set up a company with a partner or partners, work together on the plan, because youll need to decide on things such as a location from which to operate the business. People involved in business decisions should be included. n People with key knowledge and experience: Get input from those who are fundamental to the operation of your company. These could include directors or employees with experience and knowledge of your businesss manufacturing and supply processes, products and their distribution, services, service providers, regulations or key client accounts. A continuity plan sets out how your company will operate during or after a disaster or emergency, and the procedures you will follow to resume normal business as quickly as possible Key considerations: n Business processes consider the areas needed for your company to function. For instance, if you manufacture products, its probably your production services; as a website designer your IT infrastructure; and, if youre a retailer, your stock. Other business processes could include accounting, HR, marketing and sales. n Company threats assess the main risks that could disrupt your company, and maybe rank these in order of highest risk to lowest. Threats could include biological hazard, epidemic illness, natural disaster, fire or flood, gas leak or power cut, and malicious internet attack. n Impact do a business impact analysis to determine the potential consequences of your processes being disrupted for a day, a week, a month, or longer. Impacts could include: loss of sales and income; increased expenses; delayed service delivery and poor product quality; decreased customer satisfaction and loyalty; regulatory fines. Key resources: List the resources on which your company relies, such as sta, external contacts, equipment, and documents. Rank them in order of importance that is, how long your business could survive without that resource in place. Include vital contact information such as personal and business phone numbers and email addresses. n Sta think about the employees without whom your business cant function. For example, they lead your sales services or production processes, or they manage your clients and their accounts. n External contacts list the people (and their companies) outside of your business who are key to its operation, such as: contractors and service providers; suppliers and distributors; bankers, accountants and lawyers; IT consultants, electricians and engineers; and utility companies. n Data, equipment and supplies what do you need to run your operation? Your list could include: databases to conduct client projects (plus backup files and their locations); equipment; computers or software; passwords and identification data to access files and sites; supplies, such as materials to make products. n Business documents consider all the documentation you would need to continue running your business or restart your company if those documents were destroyed. Make copies of these documents and store them o site. Also make a list of ongoing payment dates, such as for business loans or your email services. List the resources on which your company relies and rank them in order of importance that is, how long your business could survive without that resource in place Contingency planning and business recovery: Its important to determine your contingency plan to help your business keep running, and then to recover. Key to this are: n Equipment identify alternative equipment you could use, and the services that could help you access it, if your companys equipment was destroyed. For example, renting delivery vehicles, or hiring computers and laptops. Also, decide who in your business will be responsible for managing the relationships with these service providers and making key decisions. n Location where would you operate your business from if your premises were unavailable? A hotel, conference centre, vacant shop, storage facility a room in your house? Think about whether a building has business facilities, space to store your products, or good internet access. Include a map to the new location in your plan, with contact information. Also list employees who could work from a home oce; this will be useful if your contingency location cannot accommodate all your sta. Putting your plan together Having gathered all the information about your businesss key functions, resources and contingencies, create step-by-step instructions for executing your business continuity plan what to do and when, and the people who should do it. These people are your business continuity team, and you should list their names and responsibilities in the plan. File all the information as one document, and give a copy to each member of your continuity team. Also keep a copy in an osite location or safety deposit box. The time it takes to create a plan will dier depending on the type, size and location of your business. Some claim they can put one together in less than a week; others say the process takes around two months. Your aim, however, is to ensure it will work and be fully eective should you need it months or even years down the line. Credit: Karen Woolley, development manager, Federation of Small Businesses Image: iStock / erhui1979 / filo / ksana-gribakina n Federation of Small Business (FSB) members have access to a free Business Continuity Planning kit, ebooks and webinars from FSB insurance service contact to find out more. For further information, please contact your local Trading Standards Service