Good Business Continuity Management (BCM) helps organisations identify their key products and services and the threats to these. Planning and exercising minimises the impact of potential disruption. It also aids in the prompt resumption of service helping to protect market share, reputation and brand. In order to be successful, BCM must be regarded as an integral part of an organisation's normal ongoing management processes. To achieve this top-level buy-in is vital as it disseminates the importance of BCM throughout the organisation. Engaging senior staff is crucial to the success of any major programme because of the influence they have over resource allocation and the culture of an organisation.
Business continuity is as important for small companies as it is for large corporations. Plans need to be simple and effective, comprehensive but designed to the requirements of the organisation.
In the event of an emergency occurring such as significant weather problems, major utilities failure of transportation problems - the council will provide updates from the front page of the its website, as well as using other media (radio and twitter) depending on the emergency.
Understanding the organisation
Before plans can be written you must understand the organisations BCM needs. There are several tools used to inform this process. It is important to first identify the key products and services that the organisation delivers. A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) identifies these critical activities and resources supporting the key products and services and helps identify the impact of a failure of these. Another useful tool is a risk assessment, which helps identify the potential threats to the organisation, and their likelihood.
Good BCM requires both incident management plans and business continuity plans, although these do not necessarily have to be separate documents. Incident management plans allow the organisation to manage the initial impact of an event, for example staff evacuation or media response. The business continuity plan allows the organisation to maintain or recover the delivery of the key products and services that the BIA identified.
Both generic and specific plans may be required. A generic plan is a core plan which enables an organisation to respond to a wide range of possible scenarios, setting out the common elements of the response to any disruption. These elements would include invocation procedures, command and control structures, access to financial resources etc. Within the framework of the generic plan, specific plans may be required in relation to specific risks, sites or services. Specific plans provide a detailed set of arrangements designed to go beyond the generic arrangements when these are unlikely to prove sufficient.
Plans cannot be considered reliable until they are exercised and have proved to be workable. Exercising should involve: validating plans; rehearsing key staff; and testing systems which are relied upon to deliver resilience (for example uninterrupted power supply). The frequency of exercises will depend on the organisation, but should take into account the rate of change (to the organisation or risk profile), and outcomes of previous exercises (if particular weaknesses have been identified and changes made).
Training and awareness
There is a need to train those responsible for implementing BCM, those responsible for acting in the event of disruption and those who will be impacted by the plans. This training and awareness can be delivered in many ways. Those involved in implementing BCM may require extensive training, whereas those with no direct responsibility may simply need to be made aware.
Reviewing and maintaining plans
Organisations should not only put plans in place, but should ensure they are reviewed regularly and kept up to date. Particular attention may need to be paid to: staff changes; changes in the organisation's functions or services; changes to the organisational structure; details of suppliers or contractors; and changes in the organisations strategic objectives.
The business continuity management standard (BS25999)
BS25999 is a code of practice that takes the form of guidance and recommendations. It establishes the process, principles and terminology of business continuity management (BCM), providing a basis for understanding, developing and implementing business continuity within an organisation and to provide confidence in business-to-business and business-to-customer dealings.
The British Standard on Business Continuity Management (BCM), BS25999, defines BCM as 'a holistic management process that identifies potential threats to an organisation and the impacts to operations that those threats, if realised, might cause, and which provides a framework for building organizational resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value creating activities.'
It provides a comprehensive set of controls based on BCM best practice and covers the whole BCM lifecycle, which is illustrated below.
The British Standard sets out six elements to the BCM process.
- BCM programme management - Programme management enables the business continuity capability to be both established (if necessary) and maintained in a manner appropriate to the size and complexity of the organisation.
- Understanding the organisation - The activities associated with "Understanding the organisation" provide information that enables prioritisation of an organisation's products and services, identification of critical supporting activities and the resources that are required to deliver them.
- Determining business continuity strategies - This allows an appropriate response to be chosen for each product or service, such that the organisation can continue to deliver those products and services at the time of disruption.
- Developing and implementing a BCM response - This involves developing incident management, business continuity and business recovery plans that detail the steps to be taken during and after an incident to maintain or restore operations.
- BCM exercising, maintaining and reviewing BCM arrangements - This leads to the organisation being able to demonstrate the extent to which its strategies and plans are complete, current and accurate and identify opportunities for improvement.
- Embedding BCM in the organisation's culture - This enables BCM to become part of the organisation's core values and instils confidence in all stakeholders in the ability of the organisation to cope with disruptions.
Basingstoke and Deane has experienced a wide range of weather over the past few years. Snow, floods, ice or even heat wave can impact your business - for instance by preventing staff, suppliers or customers reaching your door.
Information on flooding is available here
Information on snow and ice is available via Destination Basingstoke
Information on hot weather is available here
Information on gales is available via the Met Office
Business Continuity and the Economic Downturn
The Business Continuity Institute has produced a short self assessment guide
on the key aspects of your business that you may need to consider to help you weather difficult economic times.
Leading on from this the Business Link website provides more helpful guidance to developing effective survival strategies
For further information about the process please use the following links:
What is community resilience?
Community resilience is about communities and individuals harnessing local resources and expertise to help themselves in an emergency, in a way that complements the response of the emergency services.
Why is community resilience important?
Emergencies happen, preparing yourself and your family will make it easier to recover from the impacts of an emergency.
- Being aware of the risks you might face, and who in your community might need your help, could make your community better prepared to cope with an emergency.
- Local emergency responders will always have to prioritise those in greatest need during an emergency, especially where life is in danger. During these times, you need to know how to help yourself and those around you.
Guidance for Businesses:
London Prepared – Contains a really useful 10 minute checklist to assess how prepared your business is and other useful tools and guidance
Hampshire Prepared – Local information on business continuity
Guidance for Local Communities and Community Groups
How to create a community resilience plan guidance and template
Risk Specific Guidance:
Fire information from the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
Police information on crime reduction for Businesses
Cabinet Office information on building a secure business