The ideal business continuity planning (BCP) will detail the steps to be taken before, during and after an unfortunate event, such as fire or flood, to maintain the financial viability of an organisation.
By using a risk assessment strategy and setting up a steering committee to draw up emergency and recovery plans, the potentially catastrophic effects of a serious loss such as a large fire, can be mitigated. If the business is unable to trade for a prolonged period, the consequences can include;
- existing customers find alternative suppliers.
- new customers are not attracted to the business.
- loss of company reputation and prestige.
Resumption of trading as quickly as possible is therefore vital. Especially considering that 65% of single site businesses fail following a serious fire and 70% of businesses have no Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place in the event of such an event.
Planning steps to successful BCP
- Carry out a Risk Assessment. Identify ‘threats’ and ‘risk areas’ and assess the likely impact. Adopting a risk-based approach a priority action plan can be determined.
- Appoint a committee. A team consisting of representatives from each main area of the business and allocate appropriate resources.
- Appoint a BCP Coordinator to take overall charge of the team. This should be a senior executive and someone with the appropriate authority to make decisions and implement action plans.
- Determine the objectives of the BCP. These should include; enabling the business to continue to operate as normally as possible, resume normal working as quickly as possible.
- Prepare and revise as necessary an Emergency Plan and a Recovery Plan.
A survey by BIBA (British Insurance Broker’s Association) indicated that 96% of respondents with understanding of BCP felt that having a plan would keep businesses trading or reduce costs incurred when the business may have otherwise failed (a risk management surveyor can lead and advise in this very important area). Insurers are increasingly looking to BCP to mitigate loss and 83% of insurers would allow a discount or improved terms if a Business Continuity Plan is in place.
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We find that business continuity planning is increasingly used as a measure of competent business management and there is much work to be done in the SME market. Small businesses appear to be most at risk from the effects of a major disruption, usually water or fire related, so BCP is key in protecting such businesses.