How can we help you?
Business Continuity is part of the Suffolk Joint Emergency Planning Unit (JEPU); we can help you or direct you to resources and people who can offer specialist assistance.
A Business Continuity Plan describes how your company will continue to function during and after a disaster or crisis. Strong plans include provisions for a range of possible events that could impact your business’ ability to function.
This might include:
- Natural disasters such as floods, fires, hurricanes or other severe storms.
- Cyberattacks that cause yours or your clients’ websites to become compromised.
- Loss of your server(s), data, power, or third-party services.
- Unexpected unavailability of a large number of employees, due to widespread illness or other causes.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
The following steps can be used as a guide to create or enhance your Business Continuity plan:
Gather Your Business Continuity Team
The first thing you’ll need to do is determine who will be involved in creating your Business Continuity Plan. Having additional perspectives available can help you account for the greatest number of possible issues your services might face in an emergency.
- Generally speaking, a well-rounded business continuity team will consist of members from your company’s various departments. If your business is very small, this might mean that your entire company is on the team. Larger businesses can recruit representatives from each department.
- This way, each member of the business continuity team can make the needs of their particular specialty known. You’ll have more complete coverage of your business, and will hopefully avoid situations where sectors of the company are unprepared for a particular type of disaster.
Evaluate Your Risks and Potential Disaster Impacts
Before you can plan for what you’ll do in the event of a crisis, you’ll need to determine your business’ vulnerabilities and assess how various scenarios might impact them. Some common considerations include:
- What technology or resources will become unavailable in the event that your building/s location is impacted by a natural disaster? Do you have insurance, and what does it cover?
- Do you have cybersecurity measures in place? What are their weaknesses? What client data do you have stored that needs to be protected?
- Will your business be able to continue operating if a third-party service or software it relies upon becomes suddenly unavailable?
- If a significant portion of your employees are unable to work at the same time, what key procedures need to be maintained? Who is capable of maintaining them?
Put Backups and Other Preventative Measures in Place
The best plan of action when it comes to business continuity is one that solves problems before they start. In other words, once you’ve evaluated your potential risks and their impacts, your first plan should be to prevent a crisis, rather than to recover from one.
- One of the key measures you should have in place is a method for creating and storing backups of all your business’ files. This includes backups of your website, databases, project files, documentation, contracts and other legal agreements, financial information, and just about any other files your company uses.
- Remember to follow best practices when it comes to creating backups, and save them in multiple places. Ideally, you’ll want digital and hard copies of everything. Using cloud storage and automatic backup services can help with this process.
Develop Emergency Response Strategies and Procedures
Even when your business is experiencing a crisis, you’ll likely need to continue supporting your clients. Part of your business continuity plan should lay out how you’ll do this. For starters, you’ll need a plan for protecting your employees’ physical safety.
- You’ll also need a plan for providing ongoing customer support. This may mean rerouting calls, emails, and support requests to a secondary location. You could also look into setting up automatic responses for situations such as server failures or security breaches.
- Additionally, you’ll want to have a communication plan in place. Your usual method of reaching your team members and/or clients may not be available during an emergency, so having several options is ideal. Make sure to alert clients when you’re experiencing a crisis, and keep them informed as you work to fix it.
Lay Out Steps for Recovery
Once the immediate threat has passed, you’ll likely need to do some damage control. Getting through a crisis can be overwhelming. Outlining the steps you’ll take to recover can give you a clear path forward, when you might otherwise not know where to start.
Your recovery process might include:
- Restoring your website, databases, and files from your backups.
- Repairing or replacing damaged facilities and equipment.
- Patching vulnerabilities in your cybersecurity plan.
- Moving to new third-party service providers, temporarily or permanently.
Remember to prioritise your recovery tasks. Depending on the situation, it may not be possible to return everything to the way it was immediately. Tackle the most important tasks first, focusing on addressing your clients’ most pressing needs.
Test and Practice Your Plan
Once your team has written out a thorough Business Continuity Plan, you’ll need to share it with the rest of your employees. It’s also a good idea to hold a meeting to discuss the plan, and provide an opportunity for team members to ask questions about what it contains.
- Additionally, testing and practicing your plan on a regular basis is key. This has two purposes. First, practice will help your employees react more calmly under pressure in the event of a disaster, making it more likely that your plan will be enacted successfully.
- Secondly, running through your plan can illuminate any gaps or inconsistencies that might prevent it from succeeding. Spotting these problems ahead of time gives you the chance to fix them before you need to use your plan for real.
- Annual audits can help to keep your plan in top shape as well.
The following templates and information may help your understanding of Business Continuity and complete your Business Continuity Plans.
For further assistance or advice please contact:
Jon Southgate (Business Continuity Manager)