Getting started with planning

You might be wondering 'where do I start?' when there are so many things that could disrupt your business.

Ideally, Business Continuity should be part of your everyday management practice just like health and safety or being a good employer. There are some basic principles that, if you take them on board, will make business continuity much easier and manageable for your organisation:

Business Continuity is not business as normal

During disruption, you should not expect to be able to deliver everything you normally would to your customers. Business Continuity is knowing what the most important aspects of your services are and how these can continue to be delivered, or recovered as quickly as possible.

Don't scenario plan - plan for the outcomes of a crisis, rather than the cause

There can be many causes of a business interruption e.g. severe weather, terrorist attack, utilities failure etc. However, the outcomes can usually be categorised into one or more of the following:

  • Loss of key staff or skills.
  • Loss of critical systems e.g. ICT.
  • Denial of access, or damage to, facilities e.g. loss of a building.
  • Loss of key resources e.g. organisations contracted to carry out a key service.

Using outcomes as a starting point makes planning of your response to business interruption much easier and more likely to succeed. So don't think separate plans for fire, flood, and vandalism; have one section of your business continuity plan dedicated to what you will do if you can't use your building for any reason.

Make your Business Continuity planning realistic

When you are Business Continuity planning, think about what the outcomes would be if the highest risks of disruption happened. Spend less time thinking about disruption that is less likely to affect your business. So, if your organisation is based in a high flood risk area you may want to think about what you could do to run your business if a flood meant you were unable to temporarily access your building. There is a National Risk Register for the UK which shows the likelihood of a range of disruptive events, and a Community (Local) Risk Register which details the likelihood of events affecting Greater Manchester.

Business Continuity management doesn't have to cost lots of money

Think about solutions that are simple and achievable within the resources (time, people, and money) you have available to you. For example, if your services are delivered mainly by remote working (or could be during an incident) think twice about whether you really need to organise a recovery site to relocate to if your office building wasn't accessible.

There is lots of free information and guidance about business continuity planning available. Adapt it for your organisation and use it.