There are lots of reasons why a business will write their business continuity plan (BCP). Very often, it's triggered by a particular event, either something that's happened within the company or something which the business owner has heard about happening to family or friends.
Business continuity plans are sometimes written to enable an organisation to pitch for local authority contracts or for specific work or they are part of a box ticking exercise for achieving a particular standard, such as ISO. Whatever the reason for developing a BCP, you need to have it documented and communicated and people need to know where to find it, should they need it.
Some of the issues that you should think about putting onto your BCP can include, but are not limited to:
- What happens if the power goes out in your main building of work?
It might be a local power out just in your building as a result of a blown fuse or it might be a much wider power outage covering a whole area.
- What about your phone systems?
Yesterday I was talking to a client and their whole phone system went down. It wasn’t restricted to them. It covered a whole area. They had a backup plan in place. All of their phone calls were diverted to mobile phones so that the business could keep going. What’s your backup plan if your phone system goes down? Can you divert your phones? How quickly can you do it?
- We’ve been seeing a lot recently about the bad weather and the impact that that has, not only on people’s homes, but on people’s workplaces.
You need to think about what happens if you have a storm. What happens if there’s a snow day? What happens if people can’t get to work or are trapped at work as a result of bad weather? What happens if there are floods in your workplace or in employees’ homes? It doesn’t have to be bad weather, it could be a burst watermain.
- You also need to look at what happens if your supply chain is interrupted.
This is obviously an issue at the moment with the COVID-19 outbreak and supplies coming from China, but equally it could be any product from anywhere in the world. Do you check business continuity plans are in place before doing business with your suppliers?
- The most obvious issue at the moment is disease.
Although the scale of this outbreak appears to be unprecedented, your BCP needs to take into account both local and global issues and this will depend on your business. For some Coronavirus is the biggest thing they have had to deal with, but for many Foot and Mouth disease or mad cow disease was devastating.
COVID-19, which has hit across the world is making people really stop and think about how do they need to keep their businesses going? How many staff do they have? Where do their staff live? How much travel are they doing? Are you asking staff to put themselves in situations where they are exposed to a higher risk of infection? Your BCP needs to be able to deal with outbreaks and any other issues associated with infection which may impact your workplace.
- Something which most people don’t think about for their BCP is the death of a key person within their business.
It’s a known fact that most small businesses will close within a year of the death of a Key Person. What’s your BCP? Could somebody else take over the business? Have you got a plan so that the business can continue to operate with a Key Person off sick or once they have passed away?
Business continuity is absolutely fundamental and I encourage everybody to make sure that you have a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan documented and communicated for your business. They are live documents which should be reviewed regularly to ensure they are still complete and relevant.