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Top 10 business continuity tips that won’t cost the earth

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What would you do if the worst happened to your business? Could it survive? Here are some top tips to keep your company open for business, no matter what happens.

1. Create a "battle box". It should have the following in it (as a minimum):
  • Copy of your continuity plan
  • Copy of insurance policy (scan it in)
  • Company statutory documents
  • List of key advisers including bankers, lawyers etc.
  • List of key staff and their contact details
  • List of debtors and how to chase them
  • List of suppliers
  • Bank account details including key banking contacts
  • Details of IT backup company (if appropriate)
  • Company credit card
  • Copies of computer software disks and license keys
  • Incident log sheets
  • Back-up pay as you go phone(s).
This doesn't have to be a physical box, though it can be (some elements such as backup CDs need to be kept off-site). The best option is to email the ‘soft' contents of your box (i.e. computer files) to your home email address and also to other key members of staff.
 
2. Establish reciprocal relationships with your neighbours.
 
Talk to companies nearby (but not so close that they might be affected by a disaster at your premises), who you can agree to share office space, facilities etc. with in a disaster. Agree to help each other out. Keep out of hours contact details off-site and store a copy of your recovery plan at their offices.

3. Determine what are the most important aspects to your business and consider what would happen if you lost them. Then, mitigate the risk and determine simple and manageable contingency plans e.g. I must collect my cash. Always keep up-to-date copies of debtors list etc.
 
4. Make sure you know how to switch your telephone lines in a disaster. An event as seemingly trivial as a gas leak in the street can mean your phones will ring off the hook whilst you are denied access to your premises.
 
5. Pre-determine where your safe haven will be, where you can recover from your disaster in a calm and controlled way. Effective crisis management is what will get you through your disaster.
 
6. Use laptops in your business and take them home at the end of each day. This gives you inherent resilience with data off-site, but also and more importantly mobile communications.
 
7. Set up a call-cascading system so that you can communicate well in a disaster. For example, you speak to three people and they each speak to three people etc. until the message is spread to everyone who needs to hear it. This saves you so much time and allows you to handle the stressful pressures of communicating well in a disaster.
 
8. Consider the day-to-day use of document management software that automatically stores your emails and key documents off-site. It makes you more resilient and also has the benefit of making you more efficient. This software is not as expensive as you might think.

9. Agree with your key suppliers now that, in a disaster, you are automatically granted extended payments terms. This takes the pressure off you and they should understand.
 
10. Be ready to communicate in a disaster and in particular to employees who will be worried about their jobs. Talk to them regularly, they will help you in ways you cannot imagine as long as you keep them in the loop. Their loyalty is everything in a disaster.
 
To find out how the Forum can help you prepare and protect your business, call us on 0845 130 1722.

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