In these uncertain times, and with greater pressures placed on organisations than ever before, having plans in place to ensure the continuity of services in every eventuality is a key part of what makes an organisation resilient. Business continuity management is an emerging field that brings together risk assetssment and contingency planning to ensure that a company’s operations are able to continue no matter what curve balls might come its way.
A growing field
Still an emerging discipline, business continuity management is one that’s gaining credibility in the business community. Although disaster and major incident planning are fields where particularly the public sector have focused a good deal of attention on through the years, more and more companies are now waking up to the fact that a disruption to something outside of their control could seriously affect their ability to function.
- The business continuity planning cycle
Having plans in place
Although no-one can have a contingency for every possible scenario, having a plan will stand you in good stead to ensure your company stays on its feet at times when services are threatened. Rather than providing a comprehensive list of what might go wrong and how to solve it, business continuity plans are designed to put in place systems and processes that can manage in a crisis, should one arise.
Your plan should start with a thorough assetssment of the potential risks. From this, a team of people representative of your organisation’s functions can start to consider how likely those risks are to occur and what impact they would have if they did. Once you have a set of likely scenarios, you can start to plan the processes that can be enacted to manage in these instances ensuring that the plan includes key personnel and how their decisions can mitigate the impact.
Once your plan is agreed, the next step is to test it using an exercise. A likely scenario can be developed and presented to a team of people, including your key decision-makers, so they can use the plan to work through the problem and see if it would help to manage the risk as well as identify any gaps in the existing plan.
The cycle is completed with a regular review of the plan and frequent testing to ensure that both the plan and your team are kept up to date with what to do if a crisis occurs.
Securing your infrastructure
One area of any business that is likely to be vital is the delivery of power. In this day and age, power is a central part of most operations. Without it, services cannot be delivered and productivity ceases. There may still be some companies that can continue to function in some form without power supply, but those will be very few and far between.
Even if a power outage happens outside of your usual business hours, this can mean catastrophe for your organisation. Computer servers that house all your data rely on continuous power. Anyone who needs any kind of refrigeration will be scuppered without energy and quite often communications can be lost when the power supply is interrupted. Even if you’re not in manufacturing or providing hospital services, there are all kinds of reasons why losing power could prove disastrous for your business continuity.
One way to mitigate the risk of power outage and ensure you can continue to provide continuous power is to install a back-up. Some organisations choose a back-up generator, but that’s not necessarily the best option if you need to ensure that your power supply is uninterrupted. A battery from the Effekta (http://www.effekta.co.uk/) range of central battery systems, for example, can provide a fail-safe should your external power supply fail.
Having a business continuity plan can be the difference between your organisation successfully weathering a storm of unexpected eventualities or sinking under the deluge. With a robust plan and secure infrastructure in place, your firm will be more stable and better equipped to respond to whatever might come your way.
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