Business Continuity Management

Business Continuity Management (BCM) originally began in the IT department. Initially, companies were concerned with the need to recover data in the event of an interruption, whether it was a hard disk crash, a power cut or a fire. In recent years, organisations have come to understand that the actions that are needed to keep a business running involve much more than access to lost data.

Business Continuity Management is about identifying the parts of your business that you can’t afford to lose, such as information, stock, premises and staff and planning how to maintain them during short term and large scale incidents. Even a few simple steps such as having more than one member of staff trained for a role, having records backed up and staff knowing what to do if they can’t get into work will help manage any issues that could arise.

Why Consider Business Continuity Management?

Considering Business Continuity Management could help your business survive an incident and recover more quickly. 80% of businesses affected by a major incident close within 18 months and 90% of businesses that lose data from a disaster are forced to shut within two years – having a plan in place that you and your staff can follow could prevent this.

A business continuity plan will identify all the requirements which are essential to keeping your business running and will include processes to keep disruption to customers and employees to a minimum. A plan is all about ensuring that you can manage a crisis effectively and get through difficult circumstances.

When planning, you need to have a thorough understanding of your business and know where it could be vulnerable. When making your plan you need to:

  • Analyse your business.
  • Assess the risks.
  • Plan and prepare.
  • Communicate your plan.
  • Test your plan.

Your plan should outline when emergency procedures should be implemented and who has the authority to activate them.

Generally, you should plan for the impacts of incidents, rather than specific risks. Plans need to be clear, concise and tailored to the needs of the business.

Your plan should cover how you will communicate with staff, customers and clients, suppliers and shareholders in the event of an incident. This will involve having the correct technology and procedures in place and means you should consider;

  • Diverting phone calls to a new location.
  • Being able to update your website remotely.
  • Having an alternative plan if the mobile phone system is restricted or goes down.
  • How you will get information to staff if disaster occurs outside of normal working hours.
  • A plan for handling calls from and to relatives if an incident occurs in business hours.

When you work on your plan, remember to ensure the following;

  • That the plan is flexible so that it can work in any incident and at any time of year.
  • It’s clearly written and easily understood.
  • It’s integrated into your business’ structure.
  • That it’s understood by everyone in the organisation.

You should test and review your plan frequently to make sure it is in line with any changes made within the business.