Business continuity planning

An effective Business Continuity Plan will minimise any disruption to your clients, employees and your business.

Continuity Planning will ascertain a company’s susceptibility to potential threats. It includes a practical system for effective prevention and recovery at a time of crisis, while minimising operation impacts and maintaining the business’ competitive advantage. In essence, your plan should permit you to continue to operate ‘business as usual’ .

While you may expect to have a business continuity plan for a major event, like the Ryder Cup or Dublin Airport rail link – or for a specific project, your plan should not be focused on just one event. The plan is designed to sustain the future of your business, beyond a specific crisis period.

Companies risk the survival of their business by failing to plan.

Statistics from Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank  show that 50% to 66% of all business start-ups will fail in their first five years. So ask the question:

“Would my business survive in a crisis?”

Smaller businesses especially lack the resources to manage a crisis, so business continuity planning and crisis management is even more important for SMEs.

Important issues for SMEs include:

  • Limitations in infrastructure – meaning that the business does not have alternative ways to maintain operations
  • Restricted capital – so a short-term crisis which interrupts trade can be fatal
  • Insufficient insurance – direct and consequential losses can be insured, so get good and advice and insure properly
  • Limited expertise and availability – who can manage the risk assessment and contingency planning?
  • And if you spend all your time dealing with a crisis – who is running the business?

So, your Business Continuity Plan should include:

  • Instruction for the use of the plan
  • Scope of disasters and failures
  • The identification of potential crises
  • Defining and clarifying methods to minimise the risks of the crisis situations.
  • Setting out a response plan in the event of the disaster occurring
  • Testing the plan
  • Keeping the plan updated

Possible scenarios include:

  • Access To Premises: Plans might include working remotely from home and via ‘cloud’ computing.
  • Equipment/machinery: Insurance options and maintenance plans need to be considered, along with having access to equipment elsewhere (e.g. An outsourcer)
  • People: Have access to flexible resource for core functions such as finance or technical roles for planned/sudden gaps in staffing. Provide options to work remotely either by outsourcing or using own staff.
  • Suppliers & partners: Many companies are struggling, experiencing cashflow difficulties and may even go out of business. Can you fulfill your contractual obligations if a key supplier fails or is late in delivery to you?
  • Consider stock piling vital products and materials. Set up a list of alternative suppliers in case your main supplier is affected by the events of the season.

For help with designing and implementing your business continuity plan, including specialist support for key finance roles, speak with us at EFM on 0845 1299900, or email us here.

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