Business Continuity planning

Business continuity planning

Whether you’re big or small, all businesses should put a contingency plan in place so your business can keep running if disaster strikes. What’ll you do if your broadband connection fails, if you lose your data, if your staff can’t get in to work, if you can’t get into your office?  Work it out BEFORE it happens.

Don’t think disasters won’t happen to you!

Your organisation is only as good as the people you depend upon to run it.  How would you cope if your staff can’t get to work?

Your organisation is only as good as the equipment you use or the services you rely on to support it.  How would you cope without electricity, or broadband access?

Your data is one of the most valuable things you have in your business.  Is yours backed up? Do you have off-site storage and redundant systems? Do you have mirrored servers?

And consider this : it’s all very well making sure your own business is prepared, check your key suppliers are too!

You never know what’s around the corner.  Things conspiring against you to mess up your day.  They’re outside your control, but the better prepared you are to cope with them, the less the risk of your day to day business operations grinding to a halt.

How to minimise the disruption

  • Make sure all key staff have access to phone calls, data and emails when they’re away from the office
  • Don’t use a fixed phone line number – use a virtual phone number that you can divert to any landline or mobile number so you’ll still be able to take business calls
  • Use video or audio conferencing to keep in touch with staff and customers
  • Back-up, back-up, back-up ALL your business data.  Do it daily or even hourly depending on your business
  • Use an external hard drive for your data back-ups, and store it away from your PC or laptop.
  • Use an online data storage solution such as Microsoft Skydrive so your data is safely backed up and available online from any where
  • Get an IT support and repair contract that offers same day call-out
  • If your broadband goes down and you don’t have a back-up line consider using a business lounge or hot desk (these usually come with free wifi as standard)
  • Make sure you know how to login to your email using a webmail interface (and what the passwords are!) so you can send and recieve emails from anywhere
  • If your business relies only on passing trade offer mail order facilities or an online ecommerce shop as well

Stuff to help keep your business running like clockwork

Use emergency office space.  Find some nearby so you know where to go should you need it.  Do it now so you don’t waste time looking for it if the worst should happen.

Use a phone conferencing service so you can still have meetings with staff or customers, wherever you are.

If you can, get your phone lines diverted and use a phone answering service until you can get access to your office again.

Even if its too late for now, put your accounts system online using an online accounts package like KashFlow  you can log in from anywhere and still raise invoices and check outstanding payments.

If it’s a fire that’s caused your problems get your staff trained on fire safety!

Business continuity checklist

This list isn’t exhaustive but it’ll help you think about what should be in your plan:

  • Identify a continuity coordinator and agree roles and responsibilities with them
  • Share best practice with other businesses in your area and through industry associations
  • Decide which activities are absolutely fundamental to the business, and what can be adapted, postponed, or stopped all together
  • Identify which employees, processes and suppliers support the fundamental activities (e.g. raw materials, suppliers, sub-contractor services/products, logistics, process controls, security) and make sure these have a dedicated plan
  • Consider which internal resources could be re-allocated and do some cross-functional training programmes
  • Establish an emergency communications plan that includes who the key contacts are as well as how to update your website and phone messages to keep customers, suppliers and employees up-to-date