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Five steps towards a business continuity plan

Step 1 - analyse the business

  • Where is the business most vulnerable?
  • What would be the worst thing for the business?

For both of these questions, think about:

  • staff
  • customers
  • suppliers
  • IT systems and processes
  • partnerships
  • buildings
  • timescales.

For further ideas, think about the strongest and weakest links in the business and maybe what would happen in a particular event.

Step 2 - assess the risks

What are the most likely and greatest risks to the business?

Analyse the risk by asking the following questions:

  • How likely is it to happen?
  • What effect will it have on the business?
  • What might happen?
  • What would be the worst thing for the business and how likely is it to happen?
  • How would you cope with it?
  • Is there anything you can do to minimise the risk of it happening?
  • How long can the business last during an incident?

Step 3 - develop the strategy

The plan should include:

  • a description of what the plan is trying to achieve and how to make it work
  • essential check lists
  • a description of the premises
  • the structure of the crisis team – who needs to do what
  • staff focus
  • arrangements to test the plan and train the staff.

Step 4 - develop and keep developing the plan

It is important to update the plan regularly: you do not want to be in a crisis with an out of date plan.

Consider:

  • what emergency services need to know in case of an incident
  • how to keep in touch with neighbouring businesses and help each other
  • what information utility companies will need in case of an accident
  • what information will an insurer need
  • who else will be affected by your decisions and how to involve them, if possible, in the planning process
  • how others will need the information communicated if an incident occurs.

Step 5 - rehearsal and staff training

Once the plan has been developed, it needs to be tested. How will you know whether you have omitted something if you do not test your plan?

Testing should be carried out in an environment that will reproduce authentic conditions. Although it might not be practicable to change premises for a few days, it might be a good idea to test the plan at another premises with key staff for a few hours.

It is vital to test the plan with all the staff, so that each employee is fully aware of their responsibilities.

It is very important to train your staff:

  • make sure all your staff have a copy of the plan
  • ensure they have the chance to read through the plan and that they understand their own role and particular responsibilities
  • give them an opportunity to ask questions and clarify issues, as they might highlight some aspects that need to be changed.

Remember, it is important to revise the plan regularly.