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An effective Business Continuity Plan

Sunday 12th April 2020

An effective Business Continuity Plan 

A Business Continuity Plan provides the management team with the necessary information to manage the organisation during a crisis or disruption.

A comprehensive Business Continuity Plan should cover three elements:

  • Pre-Crisis – what can the organisation to become more resilient to crisis?
  • Response to Crisis – what are the immediate actions that are required when Crisis or Disruption hits
  • Recovery – Guidance on what the organisation should do to return to normal

At the point when Crisis starts to emerge, the ‘response to crisis’ elements of the Business Continuity Plan should provide information to the management in a way that is:

  • Specific – what must the Management Team do, and what roles and responsibilities do they have?
  • Flexible – Allow them to make choices to solve the problems they have in front of them
  • Focussed – Contain details that focuses on the scope of the Plan written
  • Effective – ensure that the solutions will work
  • Supportive – who are the trusted and tested suppliers, organisations or other interested parties that will be able to support the management team?

Responding to a crisis with your Business Continuity Plan 

Responses to crisis will vary depending on the nature of the crisis. Some situations may evolve very quickly, whereas some may emerge over time. The Business Continuity Plan should therefore contain clear steps that enable the organisation, and the team responsible for the Business Continuity Plan to identify, escalate and control the organisational response.

The Plan should ensure that personnel involved in the response have the authority and competency to deal with the situation. These competencies should be considered thoroughly; if an organisation loses key staff, will they retain the necessary awareness of what they need to do? A key example of this may be in relation to ‘Purchasing’ – if the organisation needs to switch suppliers, or seek additional supplies of equipment, will they retain the skills to complete appropriate supplier checks. The last position an organisation under pressure needs to be in, is that of having lost a significant amount of money to dubious suppliers because of poor decision making.

The Business Plan should include details of the necessary resources, communications and procedures to follow. Resources may include immediate response items; e.g. safety equipment, first aid kits, and also details of telephones, emergency offices or meeting rooms, back up vehicles or IT equipment. Over time, the need for resources may change so the plan should develop over time and as a result of testing and scrutiny to ensure it meets the resource need.

In times of crisis or disruption, the need for communications is paramount. Communications should ensure that confidence and trust is given to all interested parties that the situation is being managed. If bad news is to be given, it should be given honestly and after due reflection and management input. Poor communication can inflame a situation.

A Business Continuity Plan should be reviewed during the crisis to ensure it is responding to the situation as it unfolds. Areas that should be reviewed include the continuing capability of suppliers and outsourced activities, and the needs and expectations of customers; if these change, the Business Continuity Plan must reflect the newly understood needs.

Using a Business Continuity Plan to get back to normal

When the time comes for recovery to a normal working condition, what do you need you’re your Business Continuity Plan? The Business Continuity Plan should facilitate the recovery of processes back to normal, after the crisis has passed. Five simple recovery actions might include:

  • Safe return of laptops from staff that have worked at home
  • Updating Software patches of equipment that has been dormant
  • Ensuring equipment in factories is still in a safe working condition and meets insurance requirements
  • Ensuring that workplaces that have laid dormant are clean and safe to use
  • Ensuring that customers are aware of your return to normal working conditions

Business Continuity plans can be developed through a simple ‘discussion-based’ exercise, or more formally, through a process of ‘Business Impact Analysis’. If you need to demonstrate a level of governance or assurance to your supply chain, you can work to the International Standards for Business Continuity Plans (ISO 22301). This standard ensure that you have met minimum levels of Business Continuity.

At Spedan, we can support your Business Continuity activities as well as provide training, insights and audits that will support your management system development.


Related Articles

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Example Recovery Time Objective

Adam Faiers - Director

Adam has been working on Quality and Environmental management systems for most of his career in small, medium and corporate organisations. A keen advocate of the ISO approach as a platform for improvement, Adam ensures that systems are practical and useful for Managers and Staff to use.

Following a number of years working on software development projects, Adam has diversified into Information Security and Business Continuity management. Keen to formalise his industry experience, he is currently undertaking a Diploma in Business Continuity Management at Buckingham University.

Adam has a PhD from Cranfield University and now supports the MSc Environmental Management programmes through the advisory panel and visiting lectures.


We hope this article has been helpful

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