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Business Continuity Planning: Is your business prepared for the worst?

13th April 2016

 

As a business owner you are susceptible to a major emergency and how you prepare and plan for this could be the difference between your business prospering in adversity or closure.

It is of course important that you hope for the best but also prepare for the worst. Flooding, fire, terrorism, flu epidemics, industrial sabotage, blizzards and loss of power are just a few hazards that a prudent business needs to consider.

Whilst investing in new machinery, vehicles, IT may be business as usual it is as important that those assets remain safe, secure and protected. It is therefore important that your business is prepared for all eventualities with a clearly defined plan and an execution strategy. An up to date viable plan will reassure your customers and suppliers that you take the resilience and security of your business seriously.

We advise that you have a ‘Business Continuity Plan’ that describes the practical steps your business will follow if a particular problem arises. An effective plan will provide a clearly defined course of action should the worst happen. The overall aim is of course to minimise disruption to the business and your customers.

The first step is to identify the main risks that could affect your business and we would advise making a list of potential issues. From there start to sketch out some worst case scenarios i.e. what would happen if – your premises were destroyed by fire, all your computers went down, there was an explosion at a neighbouring unit, all your customer data was stolen, the access road to your property was closed, the local train station was closed, there was a power failure or even one of your major suppliers went out of business.

It is important where possible to form a disaster recovery team who will have responsibility for developing and implementing your Continuity Plan.

The plan should include:

  • Immediate actions to be taken, e.g. contacting emergency services
  • Which business functions you need to get ‘up and running’ as a priority
  • What resources you will need to get these priority functions operating
  • What each individual’s role will be if there is a disaster or emergency
  • Details of alternative premises to be used
  • Details of where and how key data and information is backed up
  • Contact details of those who need to be notified
  • Details of service providers who can help, e.g. plumbers, electricians etc.
  • A map of the layout of your premises to help the emergency services

The Plan should be in writing and kept securely. It can be retained on the premises but there should also be a copy kept away from the premises. Disaster Recovery Plans should be tested on a regular basis, which could involve a simple paper exercise, including a run-through by the people involved. A full test may involve a simulation of an emergency. Record the procedures and results of the plan and use this to review and fine tune the plan if necessary.

Minimising the risk:

There are several things you can do to prevent disasters occurring and minimising the risk in the first place, some steps are:

  • Make health and safety a priority
  • Make sure there is a qualified first-aider
  • Install fire and security alarms
  • Keep paper documents in metal cabinets to minimise fire damage
  • Keep copies of irreplaceable documents away from the premises
  • Protect IT systems with antivirus software
  • Keep your data ‘backed up’
  • Keep records of your business systems and procedures

Why bother? Disasters have no boundaries and whether you are a small or large business you may be affected. Research has shown that around 80% of businesses that suffer a disaster such as loss of computer data, damage caused by flood, fire or a major incident, cease trading within 12 months of the disaster.

Without an effective continuity plan your business could suffer from:

  • Loss of trade
  • Damage to image/reputation/brand
  • Loss of customers
  • Loss of staff
  • Loss or damage to equipment and/or premises
  • Impact on insurance premiums

With no recovery plan your business has less chance of survival therefore, the time spent in putting together a business continuity plan is good for your business, staff and reputation.

For a no obligation review of your business insurance please contact Horner Blakey Insurance Brokers on 020 7929 0108.

 

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