Business Continuity is actively performed by an organisation to ensure that critical business functions will be available to customers, suppliers, regulators and other entities that must have access to those functions.
The Business Continuity Plan sets out how the business will operate following an incident and how it intends to return to ‘normal businesses in the quickest time possible. An incident could apply to any serious disruption such as flood, fire or power fault or the loss of the physical building where the business in conducted. It is amazing how many single points of failure and key dependencies are not wholly appreciated until an organisation undergoes the risk and impact analysis elements of their business continuity project.
The plan should set out the agreed arrangements for bringing events under control, the resources available for maintaining the critical business functions and the individuals who will be co-ordinating the actions.
Any Business Continuity Plan should initially identify any assets and processes that are critical to the business operation. This should involve the names of key individuals who are essential for fulfilling the business commitments, equipment required to maintain operations, the length of time the business can temporarily function and what alternative resources are available to continue to operate. It should then present a clear plan on how precisely the business will deal with the situation, the short term alternative arrangements and then longer term planning which may include alternative accommodation, recovery of IT systems and records and contingency arrangements for day to day financial and operational procedures. Business continuity planning is an on-going process that requires regular review and maintenance of documents, expansion of the scope to take account of new threats and organisational changes and the promotion of awareness.
A wide range of advice on business continuity planning is available on-line via the Government website, however, many organisations engage a professional consultant to guide the company through the process in accordance with BS 25999 – 2 Code of Practice for Business Continuity Management.
There are a number of professional consultants available specialising in Business Continuity planning to large corporate organisations and SME’s.