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In the event of a disaster or emergency you should have a business continuity plan in place to help your business continue to function.
This could be the procedure necessary to help your employees communicate in the event of a crisis, or it could be the means to help your business resume normal operations as soon as possible.
But in the event of an emergency a plan is all well and good, but how do you go about actually executing it?
The first step to executing a business continuity plan is to take stock of the situation. How extreme is the problem? Is it possible to continue trading and, if so, in what capacity?
This can involve carrying out risk assessments to work out if there are immediate dangers to staff or the public, and noting any problems that currently face your business. This could include damage to property or to equipment, which present a danger and also hamper your business’s ability to function.
You should look at the issues that have presented themselves and their severity, and decide which problem you are going to tackle first. This could involve looking at the damage to your premises following a fire or flood and deciding what needs to be repaired and replaced. Or it could be more extreme, like a case of trying to find an entirely new location for your business.
You also need to assess which aspects of your business are the most effected. For instance, are you able to trade, but without access to specific services? Or have you lost access to some equipment that is vital to running your business?
Regardless, there will be a range of tasks to carry out. They will have varying degrees of importance, which should be laid out in your plan as being integral to getting your business into a position to continue operating.
These could be based on restoring key business functions, such as the ability to process payments. Or making sure you’re able to contact staff and keep them informed of a situation.
In executing your business continuity plan you need to ensure you’re able to assess and prioritise the severity of any obstacles facing your business.
Your business continuity plan should cover a number of situations and be robust enough to enable your business to bounce back from a disaster that is beyond your control.
The plan is normally agreed upon between the decision makers in a company. It should ensure those people know what they need to do in an emergency situation. To find out more about who should be involved, please read our blog post, Who should create a business continuity plan?
Ensuring they stick to their roles can be vital in making sure your business recovers quickly and effectively. This could entail contacting suppliers, liaising with insurers, or working with contractors to return your business to normality.
Your plan should outline all the processes and key people involved in running your business effectively. It should detail how to handle those people, and their organisations, in the event of a disaster.
Sticking to the plan means you deal with the people you need to work efficiently towards solving your business’s problems.
The final step to executing your business continuity plan is establishing the time frames for returning all areas of your company to normal. This could be working out when you can start offering specific services again, getting timeframes for repairs to your premises, or knowing when you can expect replacement stock or equipment to arrive.
Knowing how long it will take your business to return to normal means you can keep staff, as well as suppliers and companies you have contracts with, informed. It also means you can budget accordingly, taking into account rent on temporary premises, or payments for new equipment and repairs. This ensures you can keep your business running in the interim.
Should the worst happen a business continuity plan forms an integral part of keeping your business operational.
FSB members have access to business continuity services, which provide help and advice to put an effective business continuity plan together.
The service includes:
To find out more about how FSB can help you not only plan, but execute, your business continuity plan, please read our FSB Business Continuity page.