What is business continuity?

Business continuity is often described as just common sense. It is about taking responsibility for your business and enabling it to stay on course whatever storms it is forced to weather. It is about keeping calm and carrying on!

Any incident, large or small, natural, accidental or deliberate, can cause major disruption to your business. If you are not prepared, your business might suffer loss of income, of customers, of reputation, legal and regulatory penalties or even a complete failure of the business.

Business continuity is about building and improving resilience in your business; it is about identifying your key products and services and the most urgent activities that underpin them and then, once that analysis is complete, it is about devising plans and strategies that will enable you to continue your business operations and enable you to recover quickly and effectively from any type disruption whatever its size or cause. It gives you a solid framework to lean on in times of crisis and provides stability and security.

Understanding the organisation - business impact analysis

The business impact analysis aims to identify critical business functions and the impact of a disruption to them and provides an important starting point for defining disaster recovery strategies that are used to respond to disruptive events.

The business impact analysis seeks to categorise and prioritise business activities for recovery, identify all internal and external dependencies associated with critical activities, determine the amount of time required to resume critical activities, and estimate the resources that each critical activity will require for resumption of business.

A business impact analysis identifies the activities in your business operations that are key to its survival. These are referred to as critical business activities. You should consider things such as:

  • the records and documents you need everyday
  • the resources and equipment you need to operate
  • the access you need to your premises
  • the skills and knowledge your staff have that you need to run your business
  • external stakeholders you rely on or who rely on you
  • the legal obligations you are required to meet
  • the impact of ceasing to perform critical business activities
  • how long your business can survive without performing these activities

As part of your business impact analysis, you should assign recovery time objectives to each activity to help determine your basic recovery requirements. The recovery time objective is the time from when an incident happens to the time that the critical business activity must be fully operational in order to avoid damage to your business.

Why have business continuity plans?

  • ensure critical elements of the business can continue to operate during a disruption
  • maintain public and customer confidence in the businesses ability to cope with adverse circumstance
  • potentially save on costs by planning ahead
  • protect the interests of staff, suppliers and customers
  • restore business as usual as quickly as possible after an incident
  • identify roles and responsibilities for key staff

What should your business continuity plan contain?

  • updated list of all key contacts (including out of hours) for staff, clients, contractors, insurer, etc
  • roles and responsibilities - identify who will lead the response to any periods of disruption, and identify a deputy in their absence
  • call cascade tree... make clear who will contact who
  • procedures... state clearly what the business will do, where it will go, etc

As the risks to your business change, so too will their potential impacts. When you update your risk management plan, you will also need to conduct a new business impact analysis.

Please visit North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum for more information on completing a business continuity plan.

Don't forget to keep a copy of your plan offsite - the building may not be accessible.

Business continuity card

Page last updated 08/09/2017