Businesses are used to assessing and planning for commercial risks such as the sudden loss of an important customer or supplier, a bad debt or industrial action. Increasingly, a wider range of events can have a major impact on the prosperity or survival of a business. Recent events around the world have shown that terrorist or climatic events can increasingly impinge on businesses. For example 58% of UK businesses said they were disrupted as a result of terrorist incidents in the United States on September 11, with one in eight severely affected. Companies often fail to prepare for events that can have a significant impact on their operations. Fire safety measures may be common place but flood mitigation measures are rare. However, the risk of a flood or other severe weather event is higher than that of a fire. Apart from terrorist activities and flooding, other unexpected events include:
From May 2006 the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 places a responsibility on Fareham Borough Council to give advice and help to businesses and voluntary organisations for business continuity management (BCM). This is the planning an organisation can do to assess risks, identify vulnerable areas and key functions and plan its response. It is important to ensure the impact of an incident is kept to a minimum and that the business can return to normal operations as quickly as possible.
Organisations that have BCM arrangements in place are more likely to stay in business after an incident as they are more prepared to help themselves. Increasingly, insurance companies expect organisations to have these preparations in place:
A variety of websites and publications give useful advice on business continuity. Larger businesses may need to get specialist advice from professional consultants. You can see more about how we have been working with Hampshire County Council to develop an approach to business continuity management at www.hants.gov.uk/hcc/emergency/businesscontinuity.html .