Emergency planning for businesses

How businesses can prepare for an emergency, including a description of Business Continuity Management.

What is Business Continuity Management?

Business Continuity Management is defined as ‘a holistic management process that identifies potential threats to an organisation and the impacts to business operations that those threats if realised, might cause; which provides a framework for building organisational resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value-creating activities’ - Business Continuity Institute.

Why is Business Continuity Management important?

All businesses can suffer from disruptions. Businesses may be affected by the loss of the following organisational resources: 

  • Staff (strike, pandemic);
  • Premises (fire, flood, local evacuation);
  • Technology (ICT);
  • Information (paper, electronic);
  • Supplies (power, fuel); and
  • Stakeholders (partners, clients, customers).

Create a ‘type of disaster’ list

Consider what types of disaster would affect the areas vital to your business. For example:

  • flooding
  • pandemics/lockdowns
  • utility outages
  • extreme weather
  • loss of ICT
  • loss of essential equipment/software.

You might find it valuable to create a risk register for your business.

Outline what is vital to keep your business running

As a small business, you may want to consider:

  • the suppliers of the stock you sell
  • the means to sell your product or service (e.g.do you require a physical site, the internet, and or telephony)
  • essential equipment/software
  • your staff and their roles and responsibilities.

Identify your Plan B

You need to consider the alternative options you have if vital areas of your business become unavailable. For example:

  • What would your business do if you lost some of your suppliers? 
  • How would you cope if you were to lose the means to sell your product or service?
  • What would your business do if some or all of your team were suddenly unavailable?  
  • How would you communicate/work with stakeholders if you lost ICT access? 
  • How would you cope without essential equipment/software if they became available?

Write a list of key contacts

Have you got the contact details of key stakeholders if you lose ICT or the premises? 

Learn from your experiences

  • Incidents such as the coronavirus pandemic have made businesses adapt and change the way they offer their product and services
  • Write, test, and regularly update a business continuity plan