HOW TO CREATE A BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN?

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a strategy you create to ensure critical functions continue and personnel and assets are protected in the event that your company suffers from difficult or disastrous circumstances. If you want to find out more about what a Business Continuity Plan is, we’ve done an in-depth post about it here (create hyperlink).

Ok, so you’ve found out what Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is and now you want to create one. The first thing you need to do is to understand your risks.

HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE RISKS THAT THREATEN YOUR BUSINESS?

In order to protect your business, you have to be able to understand what your threats are. It’s best to err on the side of caution and consider threats outside of the obvious. This varies from business to business and includes more than just environmental factors.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON RISKS TO SMALL BUSINESS?

  • Environmental disasters (fire/flood etc)
  • Key equipment failure
  • Massive loss of stock and/or files
  • HR problems (illness/resignations/maternity leave)
  • Product defects/recalls
  • Legal actions against you
  • Utilities failure
  • IT/Communications failure
  • Data loss
  • Cybercrime

For help with IT/infrastructure protection, here are some local companies that could help:

HOW TO EVALUATE THE POTENTIAL RISKS TO YOUR BUSINESS?

For each of the risks highlighted above, you must consider:

  • Likelihood of disaster.
    It’s important to understand which of the risks listed above are more likely to cause damage to your business. If your office is on the top of a hill, it’s less likely to flood, but if your business solely relies on one piece of machinery, you should focus your time on creating contingencies for the possibility that your machine stops working.
  • Disaster’s impact.
    Consider how much of an impact each disaster could have on your company. For example, if your machine that your business is based around malfunctions, how big of an impact would that have?
  • Survival period.
    If a disaster does occur, how long could your business survive? Let’s take the machine as an example again, a contingency here could be that your business has a spare machine, or that a mechanic/engineer is always on hand to fix any issues.
  • Worst case scenario.
    The machine breaks down, there’s no spare and the engineer is sick. What do you do?

If you need help with this, here’s some great companies from the Manchester area that can help you.

WHAT EMERGENCY PROCEDURES SHOULD MY BUSINESS HAVE?

It is critical, in the event of an emergency, that all of your employees know what do. All employees should get full training in this area, as it is required as part of Health and Safety legislation.

If something does go wrong, your BCP should outline both your immediate response to the issue and the long-term approach.

Immediate response.

In the event of an emergency, your BCP will make sure that all employees know:

  • The Evacuation procedure.
    All employees should know where the emergency exits are, in case you need to evacuate the premises.
  • Meeting points.
    All employees should know where to join up with the rest of the office once you have evacuated the building in an emergency. Meeting points are designed to make sure that all members of staff are present and accounted for.
  • First aid.
    If someone gets injured or suddenly feels unwell, there should be someone on hand to help with first aid. The office should also have a fully stocked first aid kit.
  • Roles and responsibilities.
    It’s important that all employees know their role when an emergency occurs. There should be a designated first aid and general health and safety officer in each office.

Long-term response.

Once the emergency has subsided, it’s important that your BCP outlines how your business can get back on track as swiftly as possible. This could include:

  • Alternative access to important data/documents.
    All businesses should “backup” all data and documents. You can do this either by making a copy on an external hard-drive or to save all files in the “cloud”. That way you can gain access your files even if your away from the office.
  • Alternative premises.
    If, for example, your office burns down and is flooded, you need to make sure that you and your employees can continue to work somewhere else. This could be as simple as working from home or renting an office at a nearby location.
  • Method/s to complete current orders and obligations.
    If you rely on a particular printing company for all your publications as an example, make sure that you have another company that can pick up where the other printing company left off, if your printing company has complications of their own.
  • After incident counselling.
    Incidents can affect people after it has occurred, so your business should be ready to provide help and support for all employees long after an incident has subsided in case an employee is struggling to cope.

HOW TO PREVENT FUTURE LOSSES TO YOUR BUSINESS?

A good BCP should put in place effective ongoing strategies to mitigate future losses if the worst happens. This could include:

Making sure your insurance is up to date and comprehensive, as this can protect you against the financial pressure your business can come under after an incident has occurred.

  • Legal advice.
    It’s always worthwhile obtaining legal advice after an incident to ensure you are covered against possible actions against your business.
  • Storage Space.
    Sourcing storage space to keep files and stock safe is always a great backup plan. This way you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to store boxes and boxes of important information. Check out what we can do for you here.

Some local businesses nearby that could help you are,

Jelf – http://www.jelfgroup.com/site/

Watson Laurie – http://www.watsonlaurie.co.uk/

MCM Insurance – https://www.mcmgroup.co.uk/

J & A Brokers – http://www.ja-insurance.co.uk/

bis insurance – http://www.bisinsurance.co.uk/

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD MY BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN BE ABLE TO ANSWER?

Your business continuity plan needs to be clear on and cover the following points:

  • Who’s in charge of the document?
    This means the person whose job it is to keep the document up to date.
  • Who has got what job?
    It should be clear who is responsible for what aspect of the plan. Everyone should know their role and how it fits into the plan.
  • Who says it’s an emergency?
    It should be clear who has the authority to put the plan in action. You should consider that there is a likelihood that that person is not in a position to do so, so make sure there is a back-up.
  • Who should be contacted and how?
    Key contact details for suppliers, partners and stakeholders should be in the document. Remember to have as many methods of contacting them as possible.
  • What contingency plans can you put in place?
    There are numerous strategies you can use to make your business disaster ready.
  • Can you protect your premises, key equipment and resources?
    Could you quickly move your resources to another location? Is it worthwhile constantly storing some stock off-site at a secure location in case the worst happens?