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Business continuity planning

Why resilience is important

We can all recall events that have seriously impacted businesses over recent years: the Manchester City Centre bomb, flooding in Boscastle and the Buncefield explosion and fire are just some examples of recent major incidents that have had a devastating effect on small, medium and large businesses.

Nearly one in five businesses suffer a major disruption every year. How quickly – and painlessly – you manage to get back to ‘business as usual’ depends on how effectively you can devise, and put into action, your own business continuity management.

Major disruptions could include fire, flood or other natural disaster, a terrorist attack or flu pandemic. It has been assessed that businesses affected by a disaster that do not have business continuity arrangements in place only have a 50% chance of surviving the next 12 months.

Case study: Buncefield oil depot fire

The fire at the Buncefield oil storage depot in Hemel Hempstead is one example of a major disruption that has affected Hertfordshire. The Mayland Industrial/Business Area adjacent to the Buncefield site is the largest business/industrial area in the East of England.

Effects on businesses caused by the Buncefield oil depot fire:

  • 370 businesses out of a total of approximately 630 were evacuated during the incident
  • At least six of these buildings have been designated for demolition and 30 more required major repairs before they could be reoccupied
  • 290 other businesses were disrupted for up to three days due to the emergency response and minor damage
  • 88 companies with 4,000 employees were still without their premises five weeks after the event
  • The short-term business recovery costs have been estimated at £2.2 million and the longer-term costs at £100 million over 10 years

Business Continuity Management

Business Continuity Management (BCM) is about preparing in advance to survive the impact of a critical incident or disruption. BCM is a generic management framework that is valid across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

It is an ongoing process that helps organisations anticipate, prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disruptions. Effective BCM helps build resilience and safeguard the interests of key stakeholders, reputation, brand, profit-creating activities and service delivery.

Business continuity plans

A business continuity plan is a key element of business continuity and, as the name suggests, is simply a plan to keep the business in operation when an incident threatens to impact it.

All businesses, organisations, services and voluntary groups need a plan. The plan does not have to be complicated, especially for small businesses. The essential point is to have prepared for the worst that could realistically happen and have identified what would help you survive.

Whether or not your company is able to survive an emergency will depend on a number of factors, one of which is whether or not you have planned how you will recover after the emergency has happened. The speed at which your company will recover will also depend on the planning you have undertaken today.

Cyber Crime - cyber security guidance for business

Guidance is available from the Government to help businesses and organisations improve online security and protect against cyber threats.

All organisations should take basic steps to protect themselves online. You can take some simple steps to protect your business against online security threats. Having good cyber security measures in place will help protect your cashflow, your customer data and your reputation.

For a comprehensive range of guidance and support please see the National Cyber Security Centre website.

Further information

The GOV.UK Preparing for Emergencies website provides guidance to help people, businesses and communities identify and prepare for the hazards and threats that may disrupt their lives including:

  • What risks should you plan for?
  • Prepare yourself for emergencies
  • Prepare your business for emergencies
  • Prepare your community for emergencies

North Hertfordshire Council is working together with the other district and borough councils and Hertfordshire County Council to promote business continuity planning. Further information is available via Hertfordshire County Council.

“By starting to plan today you will improve the likelihood of your company’s survival and its recovery.”