Archive for

Why Do I Need a Business Continuity Plan?

Last summer in the UK we saw extensive area flooding, local flash floods, even sewage coming up the toilets and drains to catch out the people who had barricaded themselves in with sandbags. We all saw these dreadful images on television affecting homes and businesses. Some of the events had an indirect effect on business in that employees either could not get into work or stayed at home to safeguard their homes.

We saw the epic battle to save an electricity sub-station near Tewkesbury whilst we saw the flood waters overcome the water treatment plant in the same area leaving thousands of homes without drinking water for a couple of weeks. How do you run a business without electricity?

This is the stuff of nightmares and needs to be taken on board when thinking about the continuity of your business; you know that business that you put your life and soul into, that business that pays the mortgage for you and your employees. So why is it so many businesses fail following a disaster such as the recent floods. It’s not just the floods; the massive explosion at the Buncefield fuel depot in December 2005 also destroyed a number of unrelated businesses and caused structural damage to dozens of others. Do you have the ability to recover from just such an event?

They fail simply because little or no provision has been made for Business Continuity Planning (BCP), some business’s who do look at BCP sometimes grossly underestimate the worst case, others consider a weekly back-up tape lodged with a neighbouring business or stored at the home will get them by.

Sadly all too often this is insufficient to rebuild a business, insurance is essential but it can take too long and in the meantime your productivity/output has fallen, your customers have gone elsewhere and potentially so have your staff.

If you are involved in a disaster which also affects other businesses you will find it very difficult to obtain services such as roofers, builders, electricians, de-humidifier suppliers etc, because everybody else is demanding them. A properly thought out BCP will have addressed various options to help you recover, for example subscribing to a drying and restoration service as a Priority User will help tremendously as will, for example; establishing a dormant contract with emergency premises accommodation provider.

I must stress these are only examples to get you thinking, you will not know what is appropriate until you have reviewed your business process, understood what you need to keep going, understand how much downtime will cost you and work out what you can do about it.

So far I’ve outlined topical disasters to help you think about BCP. You need an open mind when thinking about BCP, always look at all of the possible events and the ramifications. Try this one: it’s 2.30pm on a week day afternoon, the fire alarm is sounded, there is some smoke and you all evacuate safely, it’s raining and very cold. The Fire Brigade arrives and the senior fire officer advises you that you cannot re-enter your premises for the rest of the week. Question – what do you do with all your staff, some of whom have no purses, wallets, car keys or outdoor clothing with them? Think about it, as the employer you are responsible for your staff at work. Your BCP should cover this situation; if it does not then I suggest that it should.

Investing in a BCP is essential and communicating that you have a well maintained and exercised BCP in place with your staff, customers, shareholders, accountant and your banker will go a long way in building confidence in your business, you might even sleep through the next gale.

(c) Copyright Kennet Security Consulting Ltd 2008. All rights reserved.