Planning for Disruption!

Now more than ever, its essential to have robust continuity planning in place – have you?

Business Continuity Planning

Now more than ever, many businesses are finding a requirement and benefit of having a robust and adaptable continuity plan in place. COVID-19 has tested business planning to its extremes this year, from wading through the storm of lockdowns, finding a way to recover, yet still losing vital staff members to furlough, redundancy or simply self-isolation.

If anything, 2020 has taught businesses that the multiple challenges they currently face (or have faced this year so far) have impacted their businesses in ways we haven’t seen before, and any planning has to account for and endure a broad spectrum of scenarios.

ARM have supported our clients throughout this time (those with plans in place, and those without). We’ve helped them to adapt, to survive and provided information to enable them to make the decisions that needed making.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

Put simply, a business continuity plan is an overview of the actions to take in the event of particular scenarios or circumstances. This could be what the business would do if a vital member of staff was absent suddenly, if there was an office fire that destroyed equipment or records or if there was a global pandemic that forced the business to close for an unknown period of time…

The idea is to consider the risk and likelihood of such scenarios happening, the impact it would have on your business and most importantly, the steps the business would take to mitigate that impact on their staff, customers, or pipeline.

Time to Plan

The planning process can be as simple or as detailed as you wish to make it and there are many ways of pulling together a suitable plan; however, whatever planning is documented, it must remain robust, up to date and practical. There is no point having a plan in place that is so complicated or in depth that it restricts the businesses response or adaptability, or it doesn’t get followed because of its complexity or number of hoops to jump through!

Identify the Risks or Disruptions

Firstly, you need to think about the situations, challenges and disruptions the business could face – even if they seem unlikely. I doubt many current plans had a global pandemic in them in any detail or even with a high likelihood…I am sure that they will going forward however! The threats could be:

  • Natural disaster or adverse weather
  • Cyber threats or data breach
  • Theft or reputational incident
  • Power loss or water supply interruption
  • Hardware or mechanical failure
  • Human error, loss of staff or lack of staff with suitable training
  • Internet, telecoms, or IT outage
  • Viral outbreak
  • Fire or other damage
  • Regulatory or political changes

Consider the Impact

From these situations, you need to look at the impact on your business. That could be:

  • Reputational effect
  • Loss of business, clients/customers or business interruption
  • Data loss
  • Loss of staff
  • Business closure (temporary or permanent)
  • Supply chain interruptions

Take Action to Mitigate

Record what actions (and if appropriate by who) the business would need to take to avoid, mitigate, or recover from the potential impact. You’ll need to consider:

  • Processes and procedures
  • Communication with staff, suppliers and customers
  • Expected recovery times
  • Staff levels and abilities, and alternative resources
  • Insurance (e.g. business interruption insurance)
  • Training

Future Prevention

Use lessons learned from past experiences to assess what could be done to limit the risks of future impacts. This could be ensuring that you train other staff members to avoid a single point failure of losing a vital member of staff, or ensuring all your records are backed-up daily in the cloud rather than filed in file cabinets or locally on computers which could be damaged, or having back up equipment, machinery or support from another business to be used in an emergency. Also consider:

  • New technology
  • Structure or operational changes
  • Adapting to evolving threats

What to Consider when Planning

When looking at the above, you need to consider various aspects of the event scenario and not always the most obvious course of action.

Yes, there are the obvious scenarios of loss of internet or IT equipment which usually have a low impact on business and can be rectified promptly within hours or days in most cases. But for bigger crises, your plan may need to include communication to specific staff or clients who will be impacted the most – how will you do this? Who will take the lead in communicating? How can your customers continue to use your services or access your products during different types of disruptions?

Every business is different. And as much as we all want a plan or method of planning that fits all, one really doesn’t exist. Each plan you make is unique to your business and so will incapsulate what matters most to your business and how to ensure its continued success and recovery following disruption and challenges the business may unexpectedly face.  

ARM can support you

If you want to learn more about continuity plans or would like support creating or updating yours, don’t hesitate to contact us! ARM delve into your business, taking into account its unique character, industry and environment so we can tailor your continuity planning to your business.


Published on 22nd Sep 2020

Rachel Ayres

Joining the team in 2015, Rachel specialises in business compliance and processes, company secretarial and contractual services.

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