Cheat Sheet

Business Continuity For Dummies (UK Edition)

From Business Continuity For Dummies by The Cabinet Office

Business continuity is all about having plans in place to enable your business to cope if disaster strikes in the form of fire, flood, terrorist attack, or simply if a key supplier lets you down. Here are a few key tips to get you thinking about creating a business continuity plan.

Why Business Continuity Matters

Even the best businesses can suffer disruptions and emergencies. Even if you didn’t cause the problem, you may have to sort it out, so it makes sense to be prepared. Business continuity:

  • Provides practical methods to help you identify threats to your business, assess potential impacts, mitigate adverse consequences and deal with disruptions if they do occur.

  • Is about making your business resilient and safeguarding the interests of everyone who has a stake in it. It helps you get on with producing the goods and delivering the services that your business is built on, even in adversity.

  • Need not be costly or complex – some straightforward steps can make a real difference and half a day’s planning costs a lot less than half a day’s lost output.

  • Communicate effectively with customers, suppliers and the media, as well as with your own staff and other responders.

  • Manage your resources if the disruption takes longer to fix than you anticipated.

  • Keep your staff safe, your operations legal, and enable you to defend your actions if you ever need to.

  • Get back to normal business, recover and learn lessons.

Making Business Continuity Work

If you manage disruptions and emergencies well, they may do little lasting harm and might even strengthen your organisation. Mishandling small disruptions can be costly both in terms of money and reputation. Business continuity works best when:

  • You have a good understanding of the risks that your business faces and the consequences if these events come about.

  • Your business continuity arrangements match your business – when they fit in with what you do, the scale of your organisation and the resources you have, where you work and the way you do business.

  • The top management in your business understand the benefits of business continuity and show their support for it.

  • You have a system in place to keep your business continuity arrangements up to date to take account of changes in your business, such as new staff, different processes or changing risks.

  • Everyone gets involved – when all your key staff buy-in to the idea of business continuity and see its relevance to them; and when you have thought about how a disruption would affect those outside your organisation too.

  • You practise your business continuity skills – when you hold exercises to test how you’d respond to a disruption or an emergency and learn lessons to make your business even stronger.

  • Communicate effectively with customers, suppliers and the media, as well as with your own staff and other responders.

  • Manage your resources if the disruption takes longer to fix than you anticipated.

  • Keep your staff safe, your operations legal, and enable you to defend your actions if you ever need to.

  • Get back to normal business, recover and learn lessons.

The Value of a Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan is essential because dealing with a major disruption places different demands on managers than day-to-day business; the situation will be unfamiliar and decisions more critical.

A good business continuity plan is a practical help if things go seriously wrong, such as when:

  • Your buildings are damaged or you lose access to your premises.

  • There’s a utility or infrastructure failure such as power, telecommunications or transport disruptions.

  • Essential plant or equipment breaks down.

  • Many of your staff can’t get to work or key individuals are unavailable.

  • You have a serious IT failure, lose data or are the victim of cyber-crime.

  • Stock or supplies are destroyed.

  • An important supplier or subcontractor fails to deliver or suffers disruption.

  • One disruption triggers a second – such as flooding causing loss of power.

A really good plan is sufficiently flexible to help even with problems you didn’t anticipate! It can help you to:

  • Focus on what matters most and save you important time during an emergency.

  • Get the information you need to start your response and get you back in control – including key contact and technical information.

  • Organise your staff and assign roles so you can address problems effectively.

  • Gain situational awareness – so you really know what’s going on.

  • Communicate effectively with customers, suppliers and the media, as well as with your own staff and other responders.

  • Manage your resources if the disruption takes longer to fix than you anticipated.

  • Keep your staff safe, your operations legal, and enable you to defend your actions if you ever need to.

  • Get back to normal business, recover and learn lessons.

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