Business Continuity Challenges

Are you ready for them?

This past year has been a challenge for many businesses, ours included, but have you used the time well to be able to cope with upcoming challenges?

Tuesday morning I went to the home office was opened up, but no electricity, we had been warned about a 30-minute power cut, but 30 minutes turned into all day. So, our contingency plan came into play immediately:

  1. Switch everything non-essential off (which we do each evening anyway) to make sure the UPS (uninterruptable power supply) would last as long as possible.
  2. Connect mobile phones to laptops / PCs to leverage their data so email still works.
  3. Turn monitor brightness down on laptops and PCs to reduce energy requirements and elongate working time.

Simple steps, that we did automatically, along with grabbing a wrap for the shoulders as no heating (and no hot drinks!) and only 3C when arrived at the home office in the garden this morning.

It reminded me of a time 20+ years ago when I had organised a seminar in a hotel. The day before an apologetic phone call came from the hotel concerned. A truck had reversed into the hotel through the wall into the meeting room I had hired. Before phoning me they had moved my reservation to a nearby venue, were covering additional costs and agreed to point anyone who turned up in the wrong place to the new venue. I spent the afternoon contacting the participants. Just one evaded direct contact, but I had left a message with his secretary as well as an email and a voicemail on his mobile (as directed by his secretary). The next day he turned up at the wrong location and was diverted. He then sought to blame me, but other delegates pointed out that him not checking in with his secretary, his voicemail or his emails were his fault and not mine.

The hotel will not have had a contingency plan for a truck reversing through a wall, but they would have had one for other catastrophic conditions and it worked.

But it made me wonder if we had contingency plans for various other situations.

The below are a few of the circumstances you should have contingency plans in place for:

  1. Fire / flood
  2. Death of a key person in the company
  3. Cyber attack
  4. Power cut
  5. Bad weather / storm damage
  6. Server failure

But what should you have in place? Here is a list of the top ten suggestions:

  1. Back-ups of data off site or at least in a firesafe. Mirrored servers as well as back-ups, in case a server goes down (it is unusual, but it does happen!).
  2. A temporary site that you could move to (business continuity locations can be ready to move into as desks are already set up, but can be very costly).
  3. Clear working from home policies.
  4. Relationships with other companies in your sector, for example, if you are a bakery, another baker could fulfil your client orders whilst you recover the business.
  5. Notification processes for your staff, customers and media. Nominate a key contact for the media to be identified to allow the top personnel to concentrate on recovering the business.
  6. Deputies in place – possibly with a role split across several individuals to prevent overload – to cover illness / death.
  7. Document, document, document: I know one medium sized robotic company who closed after their CEO was killed in an accident on holiday. The CEO had been the driving force and everything was in his head. He was seen as the company and no him no company so the other 100 or so employees were left jobless. So, documentation of strategies, designs, project plans are absolutely key.
  8. UPS devices protecting key equipment.
  9. Back-up generator in place (if power cuts are regular events).
  10. Appropriate insurance in place.

As with all insurance policies having the contingency plans in place means that hopefully they are never used, but that doesn’t mean that you can ignore them. Have them set-up just in case. If you need any help then reach help to your IT, HR and Marketing advisers to help.

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