Business continuity is ensuring that your business can return to normal as quickly as possible after a major incident.
Analyse your business
The first step of understanding Business Continuity is to think about what the critical functions of your business are. While considering what your critical functions are, take into account your staff, your customers, suppliers, IT systems and your premises.
Assess your risks
Start by thinking about possible hazards, what might happen from these hazards, the likelihood of it occurring and the duration of a hazard's impact.
Develop your strategy
Now that you’ve established what your critical functions are and the risks facing your business you can start to write your plan. It needs to be written clearly and easily understood by everyone:
- a description including aims and objectives
- a check list of essentials
- a description of your premises including a site plan of your premises, locations of muster points and emergency exits (this is particularly important should members of the emergency services need to go into your property)
- a structure of your emergency team detailing roles and responsibilities - guarantee comprehensive cover by using a rota system for instances such as sickness and annual leave
- emergency provisions for staff such as food and money (if you had to evacuate, staff may not take items such as wallets, keys or other personal items - take this into account in case they can’t get home?)
Review and record
Plans need to be updated to take into account any changes that could affect it. New staff, modifications to your premises or a supplier change will all need to be reflected in your plan. It is always good to include a periodic review date as well.
Communication is a key factor as part of your plan. Liaise with the emergency services to find out if there’s any information they require in relation to your property. They may also be able to offer you advice on security, fire safety and medical advice.
Speak with your insurers and the utility companies to find out what they would need in case of an incident.
Consult with neighbouring businesses and find out how you can both help each other. Also find out how you may affect each other. Does your neighbour have any hazards that you were not aware of when writing your plan?
Train your staff
Once you have formulated your plan, it needs to be tested to see if they are any problems or shortfalls. In preparation, ensure all staff receive a copy. Make sure it has been read and all staff understand their roles and responsibilities.
It is important that staff have the opportunity to ask questions and to clarify any points they don’t understand. Update your plan to reflect any lessons learnt from the testing. Once updated, retest again!
Help and advice
- London Prepared has useful advice and templates that you can use to plan for your business. Visit the London Prepared website.
- GOV.UK has business continuity and emergency planning guidance and advice. Visit the GOV.UK website.
- The Cross-sector Safety and Security Communication (CSSC) Business Bulletin sends out regular updates on the latest safety and security tools and guidance available to businesses. The guidance ranges from transport disruption to crime and terrorism. Register your business with the CSSC to receive the business bulletin on a regular basis and stay prepared. Visit the CSSC website.
- The Continuity Forum provides resources for business continuity professionals. Visit the Continuity Forum website.
- The Metropolitan Police provide information and support for businesses. Visit the Met website.