Preparing For the Worst

The Importance of Business Continuity Planning

The creation of a Business Continuity Plan involves developing a reaction strategy for how an organisation will respond to disaster. This disaster may occur through accidents, natural catastrophe such as earthquake or intentional attacks such as hacking or terrorism.

In plain English, business continuity is how your organisation will maintain its operations in an emergency. A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) lays out the steps an organisation will take to ensure emergency preparedness, crisis management and disaster recovery.

Nowhere is BCP more important than within the Financial Services sector. It is a regulatory requirement of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) that organisations that fall under the FSA’s regulations have rigorous and robust plans to ensure business continuity during times of crisis. Organisations must consider the factors and steps required to prepare for any type of disaster, and maintain compliance with FSA regulations, even during an emergency incident.

Most recently, the Financial Services Authority called upon UK organisations to test their business continuity planning in the light of the Swine Flu outbreak. In 2006, the FSA carried out an exercise to test the possible impact of a flu pandemic upon the financial services industry. It found that almost 50% of the UK’s financial services workforce would be absent if a flu pandemic swept the nation.

Clearly, this would strenuously affect the capacity of financial institutions to carry out their operations. Companies across the UK have rapidly responded to the need for expansion to their current business continuity plans by including preparedness for a viral pandemic.

But it doesn’t need to be major emergencies that affect business continuity. Even temporary failure of power, security or information systems can wreak havoc on an organisation. Barclays Bank recently demonstrated this, when a faulty disc array prevented customers in the South of England accessing their accounts via ATMs or through online banking portals. Clearly this indicates how even minor difficulties demonstrate a potential weakness in business continuity planning.

Of course, it’s not only the Financial Services sector that needs to put in place robust plans for managing disaster. Organisations of all sizes should plan for emergencies and devise a strategy for interim management and continued operation when unforeseen circumstances arrive.

When constructing a Business Continuity Plan for your organisation, you should:

  • Identify any potential disasters/emergencies/crises

  • Verify how you intend to minimise risk of the disaster occurring

  • Plan your reaction if a disaster occurs

  • Test your Business Continuity Plan regularly.

Vulnerable areas that should be included in your BCP include: People, Buildings, Systems and Processes, Partnerships, Suppliers and Customers.

As businesses become increasingly dependent upon technology and regulatory requirements tighten, it’s clear that business continuity planning becomes a necessary factor of doing business, rather than just an additional extra. Since 1 in 5 businesses experience a major disruption every year, those organisations that do not prepare a business continuity plan face the possibility they may cease trading as a result of a disaster.

Is that a risk you’re willing to take?

If you want to talk more about business continuity planning visit the Securm website at or give us a call on 0800 612 4074

Source by Lee Barney

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