How prepared are you for a major disruption to your business?
Do you have a business continuity plan? Have you thought what would happen if…?
This page is designed to help business owners plan for a business interuption. The focus is on the consequence of the incident and the imapct of a range of losses on you being able to deliver business as usual. The information is applicable to all businesses, not just for big companies.
Read the Business Continuity Plan here.
Could your business still operate in the event of:
- Loss of staff?
- Loss of utilities?
- Loss of IT/communications?
- Loss of premise?
- Loss of supplier?
Loss of Staff
A last minute loss of staff can affect even the biggest business. Do you know the minimum number of critical roles you need to be able to staff?
One of your staff breaks a leg and is off for 6 weeks?
Do you have agreed access to their calendars; do you know who their customers/clients for the next 6 weeks?
The only staff member that understands the computer system is on holiday?
Never have just one person with access to something critical.
Half your staff win the lottery?
Make sure you know which areas of your business are critical. Consider moving roles around other staff. Are you in a position to use agency cover?
Loss of utilities
Most business rely on water and electricity at their premises. It is used for everything from security to storage. A power or water shortage could have a drastic impact on your business - from disruption to service to a loss of critical data.
The power went off overnight?
Does your business rely on power to operate? For example, food fridges, security shutters, door systems and car park barriers.
If you’re a food premise environmental health advise:
- Keep the freezer doors closed until power is restored
- If food has completely thawed but it is still at a temperature of below 8⁰C for it will be safe to use within 24 hours - if above 8⁰C food safety may have been compromised. It is therefore recommended that the food is disposed of.
- Where food is starting to thaw the food may still be safe to eat but the shelf life for the frozen food will be reduced; if it is raw food this can be cooked and refrozen, if previously cooked this can be cooked/reheated and eaten but not refrozen
The power goes off mid day for 24hrs?
Do you just send all your staff home? Can staff work from home? How do you still get urgent deliveries out?
Do you know if you have a back up power supply to your building?
Is your power affected by other units in the building? What if they have a problem?
The water goes off for 12 hours?
Does your business rely on water? Would your staff and customers have access to toilets and hand washing?
Loss of IT/Communications
Loss of IT/communications poses the threat of loss to critical or sensitive data.
All your files are on one computer hard drive?
Always back up important information securely either online or on more than one hard drive.
Can you take orders by hand until you are able to upload them on to the system?
Your landlines go down? Is that the main number your customers use to contact you?
Consider having a central database of important business contacts - share these with relevant colleagues.(dont forget to consider data protection)
You update yor website from the office computer
Can you remotely update you website?
Loss of premise
You had a fire or a water leak that stopped you accessing your premise?
Keep a copy of your business continuity plan in a safe place off your premises, to enable you to access it in the event of an emergency. Make sure those in responsible roles all have copies and understand the plan.
Consider alternative arrangements for staff to continue working, can they work from home? can your business operate completely online?
Make sure you have building and contents insurance.
Can you contact all your staff out of hours to update them?
Consider securely holding contact details of your staff. Use a cascade system so you don’t have to ring everyone yourself.
Are all your files paper based and now destroyed?
Consider scanning your files so you have an electronic back up.
If you need to find a new premise, do you have you have a back up of customer details stored securely off site?
Don’t forget to store them following the correct data protection guidance.
If you've run your business from home temporarily, you may need to speak to your insurance company.
Loss of supplier
Do you rely on one particular supplier?
Ensure you have a list of alternate suppliers as a backup.
Can your supplier still deliver if there is a fuel strike?
How many days worth of stock do you hold?
Could you operate until your supplier is back up and running?
Business continuity plans
Help is at hand if you’ve realised you may have gaps in your business continuity plans. Putting plans and processes in place now will help you when disaster strikes. Don’t forget make sure your staff know what’s in the plan.
Learn more about how to create a business continuity plan here.