During these uncertain times, you will want your business to be able to handle the impact of a serious disruption. This is known as maintaining business continuity and helps ensure your organisation’s resilience.
A business continuity plan highlights the possible risks your business might face, and the actions needed to overcome them. Otherwise your business could suffer serious negative consequences such as losing income for a lengthy period, having problems with suppliers, seeing its reputation damaged and losing staff.
Creating your business continuity plan
An effective plan sets out ways in which you can carry on with your main business activities. It might involve moving to different premises or employees working from home. To complete the plan, you will need to:
- Identify the main activities of your business and the staff responsible for them;
- Consider those areas that are essential to the business staying afloat i.e. the major revenue generators;
- Identify whether the essential areas are dependent on any other areas;
- Consider what would be an acceptable ‘stop time’ for the essential areas (and, if there are any, the dependencies too);
- Identify the internal and external risks that could lead to a major disruption, such as the sudden failure of your computer network or extreme weather conditions;
- Assess the impact of these risks e.g. using a RAG rating;
- Make a plan of action to reduce the likelihood of these risks and their impact and maintain essential areas.
You will also need to consider:
- Any financial, legal or regulatory penalties if you can’t provide a service that you’re contracted to supply.
- How long your business could go without items it normally uses like specialist software or equipment.
- How you would cope with a major disruption – perhaps because of a lengthy power cut or damage to your premises.
Once you have drawn up the plan, train your staff so that they will know what to do. Review the plan regularly to make sure it’s still effective.
What should a business continuity plan include?
- Purpose and scope
Details of the plan should be provided, and any exclusions must be explained.
Persons with authority during and after an incident must be assigned roles.
- Plan invocation
Details of how and when the BCP will be invoked.
- Developing the BCP
Information in the plan must be understood by and accessible to everyone in the organisation.
How, and under which circumstances, the organisation will communicate with employees and their relatives, key interested parties and emergency contacts.
Provide information relating to essential stakeholders, including their contact details.
- Document owner, approver and change history record
The business continuity manager is the owner of the BCP and is responsible for ensuring that the procedure is reviewed and tested regularly.
- Change management
The document must be published in a place that is available to all members of staff, especially those directly involved in the BCP, and in all appropriate formats (digital, hard copy, etc.).
There are many template continuity plans online such as this one, but please ensure that you adapt them to meet the requirements of you own organisational priorities.
Advice & Guidance
The UK Government issued guidance to help businesses plan to deal with the impact of a major incident or disaster – Expecting the unexpected: Business continuity in an uncertain world
For advice and support contact Welsh Government’s Business Wales helpline on 0300 060 3000
ACAS has information for employers on dealing with Conoravirus here: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
You must have insurance cover to protect against loss and damage caused by criminal activities, but it may not cover incidents such as global pandemics if the notifiable disease is not listed. If you are uncertain about your cover, you should speak with your insurance provider.