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Keeping Your Business Safe

Did you know that 20% of businesses face major disruption every year, with around 10% of these unfortunately ceasing to trade. We never expect a fire, flood, or utility disruption to affect our business, and it’s certainly not something that’s top of your priority list. But thinking about how you might cope with these disruptions and how we would carry on trading is important and could be the key to ensuring your business survival.

Business Continuity Advice & Guidance

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 states that local authorities must provide advice and guidance to local businesses about how to prepare your business for those small or large things (accidental or deliberate) which may cause unforeseen problems to your business.

In general terms Business Continuity is about protecting the things in your business that you can’t afford to live without (staff, premises, IT etc) and how to plan to try and prevent these things being affected.

It doesn’t matter what size of business you hold you need your business to be able to continue to keep the profits coming in and to be able to pay your staff.

  1. What does your business do? What is its purpose and what are the products / services?
  2.  Assess the risk to your business; Power cuts / floods/ loss of access / loss of staff / loss of  suppliers / etc
  3. Develop a strategy to deal with these risks. What needs to be done / who needs to perform these actions
  4. Develop & write your plan. The plan can be as simple as you want it to be 
  5. Test your plan. You need to make sure that it works and that your staff understand what to do and when
  6. Review the plan regularly
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  • Is your business the main source of income for you and your family?
  • Does your business insurance cover you for all the “risks” that you have listed?
  • If you couldn’t access your business premises, could you still trade?
  • If your offices were vandalised and your computers, IT were damaged or stolen would you lose all your customer / business information?
  • If your staff won the lottery, or were long term ill, would their jobs still get done?
  • If you couldn’t trade for a month, would your customers wait for you to re-open or would they go somewhere else?
  • Do you have a contingency plan in place to deal with an incident/disruption?  (Do you have a copy of the plan at home?)
  • If you have answered “no” to 2 or more of these questions, your business may have difficulty surviving from a disruption or identified risk.

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Business Continuity Guidance for Organisations of Different Sizes

Different sized orgnaisations have different considerations and therefore will require different plans and organisation, below is some guidance that can help with plan writing:

  • Having the correct insurance to cover all aspects of the business
  • Back up of all key documents and data
  • Good clear lines of communication between staff and contractors in and out of hours
  • Nominated deputies, with access to all the information the manager has
  • Ensure supply chains and contractors have a form of business continuity
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  • Having the correct insurance to cover all aspects of the business
  • Back up of all key documents and data
  • Good clear lines of communication between staff and contractors in and out of hours
  • Nominated deputies (more than 1), with access to all the information the manager has
  • Ensure supply chains and contractors have a form of business continuity
  • Financial plans for loss of business trading for prolonged periods must be in place.
  • Plans to deal with a loss of staff or a staff member with a specific key skill
  • Staff must have back-ups available for their role
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  • Having the correct insurance to cover all aspects of the business
  • Back up of all key documents and data
  • Good clear lines of communication between staff and contractors in and out of hours
  • Nominated deputies (more than 1), with access to all the information the manager has
  • Ensure supply chains and contractors have a form of business continuity
  • All staff should be aware of the business continuity of their section
  • The plan must state the difference between operations at different sites the organisation run
  • The Plan must mention standard practice for dealing with evacuations/ invacuations of properties and denial of access of buildings
  • The Plan must mention potential risks to the organisation and the process by which they will be assessed.
  • A command structure for the organisation in an emergency must be highlighted and explained
  • The Plan must have details regarding ability to source emergency funds. .
  • The retention of data both physical and digital must be commented on and IT Disaster Recovery arrangements mentioned.
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Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Within the past 3 years, have there been any occasions when the business operation(s) have been disrupted by:
    •  Computer or critical system failure for more than 2 hours
    •  More than 40% of your staff unable to attend work for 24 hours
    •  Loss of a building/premises for more than 2 hours
  2. Have you put in place procedures to learn from these events and stop/minimise their affect?
  3. What contingency plans does the organisation have in place to identify and control against (or minimise) risk / threats to the business operations?
  4. Does the plan contain or point to, a risk register for your business?
  5. Does the plan state the requirement for decision logs and documentation retention during and after an incident?
  6. Does the plan state there must be a minimum of an annual test of the business both for managers and staff members?
  7. Does the plan show the need to ensure that all staff are aware of the business continuity procedures (to some level) and that the procedures are not directed towards senior management only?
  8. Is the plan clearly defined to have and ensure, employees are aware of the different protocols for different locations within the organisation?
  9. Does the plan contain arrangements to deal with evacuations/ invacuations of properties?
  10. In the event of an emergency, does the plan:
    •  Have, or identify where, the company’s contact details are so that staff and/or customers can contact a group of senior managers both in and out of hours?
    •  Have contact details, or identify where the company can get contact details for all clients it has to use in or out of hours, to report a problem?
    •  Show the command structure of the company that should be used in an emergency to coordinate the response?
  11. Does the plan have or point to, a disaster recovery plan for the IT of the organisation? 
  12.  Does the plan have details regarding ability to source emergency funds and how those funds will be used and monitored in an emergency?
  13. Does the plan contain requirements to ensure that companies in your supply chain have business continuity plans to maintain your services?

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Last updated: 11 January 2019 | Last reviewed: 11 January 2019