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Business Continuity Planning

Business Continuity Management if practiced effectively can assist a business to survive the disruptive challenges that threaten our everyday life.

Introduction

By developing a management tool that looks at the whole business organisation and identifies the critical processes, and plans, prepares and protects, a business can survive.

The following facts are quite sobering:

·80% of businesses affected by a major incident close within a month.

·90% of businesses that lose data from a disaster are forced to shut within 2 years.

·58% of UK organisations were disrupted by September 11th.Of those disrupted 12% were seriously affected.

·Nearly 1 in 5 businesses suffer a major disruption every year.

The Business Continuity Management Process

Understanding your business and key objectives

List the processes and think about the importance of each process to the success of the business. Understand the dependencies on each of the processes both upstream and downstream. Understand each process, how it works, what are the component parts of the process, can it be achieved any other way in emergency.

Identify key activities and staff working within those activity areas

List the activities within each process and identify those, which are critical.Plot them on a timeline to show the maximum length of time allowed before a key activity must be completed. These are processes without which a serious impact would occur, internal or external, life threatening, financial, reputation or environmental. Cross train other staff to cover these activities if necessary.

Identify the potential threats

List the everyday threats that would challenge your ability to continue your day to day activities; such as fire, flood, prolonged power loss, systems failure, epidemic, political disruption, etc. Include on your list as many problems as you think of and include some of the unthinkable such as terrorism.

Assess the risks - internal and external

Measure the risk against each key activity within each process on the basis of likelihood; has it ever happened before? Have circumstances changed to make it more likely? Has your business changed to make it more vulnerable/robust?

Calculate the impact

Measure the impact of each key activity within each process of each disruptive challenge occurring.

Review the results

Review the impact against likelihood or reduce the impact if this is possible. Consider some of the simple contingencies that may help in an emergency; for example an off site emergency box containing useful, regularly updated information can be very important in a crisis.

Include in your plan some useful work around processes that would help in an emergency. Focus on the most critical areas/processes/activities first, include useful addresses and phone numbers/web-sites. Distribute copies of the plan among your key staff and keep a copy offsite.

Train your staff

Talk to your staff and get their input, they will certainly know the work around processes better than you.Hold a staff meeting and run through the plan with them, make sure they are aware of the detail of what to do in an emergency.

Exercise

Draw up an exercise schedule for you business at least a year ahead. Include a table top walk through of a scenario based around one of the threats from your list of perceived potential disruptive activities. Don't forget to include a fire evacuation. Discuss the exercise schedule with your staff and get their support.

Audit

After each exercise get the feedback and consider how the plan could be improved.

Review regularly

Revisit the whole process at least each year. The potential disruptions may have changed; your business may have changed.You may have different critical processes.

Further Help

Further assistance can be obtained by checking out the web sites listed below and the links they provide to other sites.If you require more specific help or advice from Torridge District Council please contact:

Jon Walter, Governance Manager Tel. 01237 428784; e-mail jon.walter@torridge.gov.uk

Many very commendable books have been written on the subject but we can recommend the following as practical, easy to read guide for the small to medium business:

"Expecting the Unexpected - business continuity in an uncertain world", this can be downloaded from the London Prepared web site.

Useful web sites

Business Continuity Institute: www.thebci.org

London Prepared: www.londonprepared.gov.uk

UK Resilience:www.ukresilience.info