Gary Donlon, director at Jermyn Consulting, gives offers advice on making sure SMEs are prepared for the worst.
1. Identify your critical business activities then identify the possible risks affecting them.
Businesses without a business continuity plan that experience a disruption are much more likely to fail than those that don’t.
2. Develop a plan for every eventuality. Consider providers, performance, any Service Level Agreements you need to attain, processes, people, premises, profile or brand and preparation.
Remember perfect planning prevents poor performance.
3. Write the plan down – that way everyone can access details not just the managing director or IT manager.
4. Communicate – tell everyone who may be involved that there is a plan and ensure they understand the plan and their role in it.
5. Rehearse – don’t be in denial that it won’t happen. Mock scenarios make personnel more adept at swinging into action when the worst happens.
We developed a plan for the Glasgow School of Art. Because they had rehearsed the plan when the fire broke out last May they established a control room and the school was back up and running within days.
6. Your suppliers need business continuity planning too. Supply chain disruption is as big a threat to many organisations as are their own threats.
Can you really do without broadband, IT or other critical services? Make sure your suppliers understand how critical they are to your business continuity and how it might impact on your ongoing relationship.
7. Update your business continuity plan regularly, it is like any other part of your planning. It needs continually reviewing and updating to ensure it is always fit for purpose.
If there are organisational changes revisit your plan.
8. Make it relevant – ensure that your business continuity plan is aligned to the rest of your business strategy. It must get you back up and running again as soon as possible.
9. Prepare to be flexible - by virtue of it being a plan, it is when the unthinkable happens so you have to think on your feet at all times. The most effective plans are those which are agile.
10. Have a Crisis Communications plan – in the event of a business continuity incident stakeholders must be kept informed.
Have a statement ready to go and a timetable of ongoing communications ready to update as events unfold. Don’t forget social media. Knowledge is power for all.