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Ten reasons to have a business continuity plan

With floods becoming a regular features of life in some parts of Britain, we take a look at the importance of having a business continuity plan in place. In this article we give you 10 reasons why a well thought out plan will benefit your business and give you peace of mind.

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 People's views on business continuity planning vary from: "business … what?", "It's just common sense, isn't it?" to "Oh god, where do we start?" So let's take a step back and look at how business continuity planning can benefit your business.

1. Survival

The harsh but simple fact is that there are a hundred and one things that can disrupt a business. A well thought out, practical plan can mean the difference between coping with a disaster and going bust.

2. Revealing inefficiency

A business under threat can be viewed like a patient on an operating table. The priorities are clear: maintain the blood supply (cash flow), oxygen (communication links) and at all costs protect the vital organs (the staff and premises). Business continuity planning starts with a thorough analysis of the business to decide which parts are vital. Is that product or service really essential to what we do?

Why do we need four of those, not two? When viewed like this, the non-critical parts reveal themselves – all the procedures and resources that have appeared over the years, but which aren't really necessary.

3. Gaining the marketing edge

Having a business continuity plan can give you the edge over your competitors. It shows your commitment to deliver no matter what happens. Put yourself in your customer's shoes: do you sign the contract with the business that has a business continuity plan? Or the one that doesn't?

4. Boosting staff morale

To find and keep excellent staff you need to inspire confidence and maintain loyalty.

When something goes wrong they expect the business to have a plan and to cope. In return they will give you their best efforts.

5. Keeping insurance premiums under control

Insurance is an important aspect of addressing business risks, but it costs. A robust business continuity plan will demonstrate your commitment to managing risks and your insurer should consider this when calculating how much your insurance premium will be.

6. Compliance

The demand for business continuity plans is now trickling down from big business to their smaller suppliers. The big supermarkets such as Sainsbury's are starting to vet suppliers.

Added to this, legislation such as the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 now requires category one responders (local councils, health authorities, police, fire etc) to ensure the business continuity arrangements of their suppliers.

7. Better communication

A business continuity plan relies upon communication – being able to give the right person (who can fix the problem), the right info, at the right time. It's also the ability to keep talking to customers, suppliers and staff even if your office is a pile of rubble or just locked up and the key missing.

Normal day-to-day business can surely benefit from better communication. Whether that's having a wider range of tools at your disposal or becoming more disciplined at sending the right information to the right people. 

8. Increased value

A business that will cope with whatever is thrown at it is a more valuable and reliable investment than others. Ensure this is factored in when asking your bank manager for a loan, when selling some equity or dealing with the new owner when you have decided to sell up and relax.

9. A negotiation tool

Knowledge is power. Understanding the principles of business continuity means you can spot weaknesses in other businesses. If your main supplier is asking for a price increase ask about their business continuity plans. If you spot holes then ask why you should pay extra when there may be more reliable suppliers out there. 

10. Relaxation!

While other business people lie awake at night, you can rest easy knowing your business continuity plan is ready, should the worst happen.

About the author

Stephen Belshaw works at Safe in the Knowledge, who provide an online tool to check your own disaster planning arrangements and those of your key suppliers.