In the past few weeks we have seen coronavirus spread throughout the UK wreaking havoc on businesses in its wake.  Staff have been forced into lockdown, furloughed or required to work from home.  Transport has been interrupted and supplies that we would usually take for granted, have been restricted.

So, were you ready?

Whilst there will always be risks that could lead to business interruption, most of these can be mitigated to reduce the impact that they cause to your business. 

If you already had a business continuity plan in place you will now be able to ask yourself was it workable and, if not, which bits didn’t work as planned and why? 

As a business owner or director you will know first-hand that management time and budgets can be tight, but spending time planning for effective business continuity and disaster management could in times like this, save your business. 

If you didn’t have a business continuity plan consider the following:

  1. What do you need to keep the business running? – Think about your company, department, service and the critical resources (people, property, systems, suppliers, utilities, materials etc.) required to function. Make a list.
  1. What are the risks that could impact critical resources? – For example, do your staff have the resources to work from home? Is their IT equipment suitable? Are staff needed in the office to deliver the service and what if the office is unavailable (fire, flood, denial of access, quarantine due to Coronavirus etc.). Make a list.
  1. What mitigations do you have in place? – For each risk identify the possible mitigations available. In the office example, the mitigation could be to work from home. What additional mitigations do you need? Make a list.
  1. Create a strategy and a plan – If you don’t already have one, create a strategy and a plan.
  • Secure a commitment to business continuity from senior management
  • Identify your critical processes (vital organs to protect)
  • Understand the resources required for each process
  • Map risks to each resource (likelihood & impact)
  • Implement appropriate mitigations to achieve an acceptable managed risk level
  • Write up immediate actions (Crisis Management & Business Recovery)
  • Allocate team members to Crisis Management & Business Recovery teams
  • Train team members
  • Test, review and continuously improve recovery processes
  1. Test your plan – Hopefully, you won’t need to enact your plan for real again, so the next best thing is to run a test. Start off with a ‘desktop’ test where you talk through a business interruption scenario and find answers to the problems. Next time around, add realism by enacting some of your mitigations. Without giving undue notice try sending staff to work from home, recover data from a backup etc.

Finally, delegate someone in the business the responsibility to continuously monitor for threats and incidents and react quickly and expertly to incidents as they unfold.

It’s not rocket science, it’s planning. And don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work perfectly; at least you will have mitigated most of the issues.

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