Business continuity

If your premises were affected by a disruption like a fire, flood, IT failure or power loss, how would your business cope?

Business continuity is about understanding and managing risks to the everyday running of an organisation. It helps you to prepare for disruption by planning different ways of working so that you can continue to deliver your key services and get back up and running as quickly as possible.

Experience shows that developing a business continuity plan can help to reduce the impact and costs of a disruption. It means your organisation is much more likely to continue trading and delivering services if a disruption or emergency were to happen.

The key points are:

  • what activities does the business need to maintain
  • how will you go about it
  • who actually does what

A key first step of your business continuity plan is to identify your critical functions. Critical functions can be defined as those activities which need to be performed to deliver key products and services that enable your business to meet it’s most important and time-sensitive objectives and to maintain your cash flow. This will help determine your priorities and the most suitable recovery arrangements.

After assessing your critical functions, pull all the information into a business continuity plan using the structure below. Remember that this is your plan, fill it with the information you need, but try and keep it as simple as possible.  As an overview, business continuity plan would generally contain the following details:

  • plan purpose and scope
  • document management information eg document owner, version control, distribution list
  • how will the plan be activated - when, by whom and how?
  • roles and responsibilities
  • critical functions / activities to be recovered, timescales and recovery levels needed
  • resources available to deliver critical functions during the first 24hrs and up to 2 weeks from the event, and processes for mobilising resources (equipment, IT, transport etc staff needed to maintain operations)
  • actions to be carried out, in what timescale and who will do these
  • key contact details - internal and external
  • clear communication processes - who reports to whom or cascades information (contact details should be tested regularly on at least a six monthly basis)
  • process for standing down and returning to normal business

Make sure you regularly review your business continuity arrangements and ensure staff are fully aware of their role in a disruption.

Start with a minimal plan and test it with a short exercise to ensure it is fit for purpose.  This can be carried out through a table top exercise with key staff involved in managing the response to an incident.

Attached is a brief business card (pdf, 229kb) that you can fill out for your staff to carry with them.

Further advice; please contact the Emergency Planning Team on

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Page last updated: 04 June 2018

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