Business continuity plan examples

More than a tenth of UK businesses fail each year, according to government figures. While this is often the result of cashflow issues, some companies fail because they’re unable to recover from an unforeseen event that suddenly devastates their business.

Such events can include a pandemic, premises fire, flood, burglary, a serious act of vandalism or arson. According to government estimates,43% of UK firms have suffered a cyber breach or attack, which can also prove fatal.

Some UK firms have their survival threatened by customer or employee fraud while others must face the consequences of breaking the law or legal action brought by clients or customers for alleged negligence. Few events are more devastating than a workplace fatality, while terrorist attacks have also affected many UK businesses.

Often events can be much less dramatic but still impactful. Examples can include losing a major customer or one going bust without paying their bill. A key staff member can leave; a business owner can suddenly become seriously ill; a main supplier can suddenly go bust.

Moreover, technical problems can suddenly result in the loss of business-critical data that hasn’t been backed up and stored elsewhere. Businesses also need to consider power cuts, losing telephone/internet use and serious disruption caused by extreme weather.

Whatever the event, having a robust business continuity plan can minimise damage and make all the difference between survival and failure.

What is a business continuity plan?

As the name suggests, a business continuity plan can enable your business to continue to operate following a significant event, emergency or disaster. Crucially, a business continuity plan can minimise disruption, thereby limiting cashflow impact.

Sometimes the term ‘disaster recovery’ is confused with business continuity. Although disaster recovery is an essential part of business continuity planning it is specifically related to the Information Technology aspects of your organisation and recovery of these following a disruption.

A business continuity plan refers to the wider and longer-term objective of ensuring that a business can continue to function, while protecting its revenue and rebuilding/recovering following a disruption.

Why do you need a business continuity plan?

Thankfully, bad events are rare. But, they do happen, and having a well-considered business continuity plan can provide owners, managers and employees with a reliable way to react and recover in the event of a business disruption. Taking the right action at the right time can mean the difference between recovering quickly or not at all. Any disruption will impact your cash flow so it’s vital to quickly act on your plan.

Having a business continuity plan offers no guarantees of recovery. However, you’re more likely to survive if you’ve taken time in advance to identity risks and have worked out how best to respond. You may not have the time or ability to think clearly and make good decisions in times of emergency, disaster or crisis. How you react immediately afterwards is vital.

How to create a business continuity plan

There are 6 main phases to creating a Business Continuity Plan; the industry standard for Business Continuity Management is set out in the Business Continuity Institutes Good Practice Guidance – Business Continuity Lifecycle.

  1. Policy and Programme Management – establishes the organisations policy relating to Business Continuity and defines how the policy should be implemented via an ongoing cycle of activities within a Business Continuity programme.
  2. Analysis – review and assessment of the organisations objectives, how it functions and its constraints. Includes Business Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment.
  3. Design – identifies appropriate solutions to ensure continuity during and following a disruption.
  4. Implementation – the development of the documented Business Continuity Plan including a response structure.
  5. Validation – the testing and exercising of the Business Continuity Plan to ensure that continuity solutions, response arrangements etc are current, accurate, effective and complete.

Further information and guidance on developing a Business Continuity Plan can be obtained from:

How to create a business continuity plan | FSB, The Federation of Small Businesses
Introduction to Business Continuity | The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) | BCI (thebci.org)
Your Local Government Emergency Planning/Business Continuity/Resilience Team can also assist; most have information related to Business Continuity on their website along with local considerations.

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