Importance of a Business Continuity Plan, even if you think “the horse has bolted”

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The current COVID-19 pandemic has unquestionably had a dramatic impact on businesses of all sizes and across all sectors.

However, it is likely that those organisations with a robust Business Continuity Plan (‘BCP’) in place – have been better placed to react and respond to the sudden unfolding of the effects being caused by this pandemic. These businesses are also more likely to recover quicker and less likely to permanently cease trading.

And whilst it may feel like ‘the horse has already bolted’ for those without a BCP, now is certainly a time to be pro-active and get this in place for the future survival and (hopefully) success of the business.  The current situation will also enable you to factor in real-life experience of what does and does not work.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

Succinctly – a plan to maintain business functionality, or to resume this as soon as is possible in the event of disruption (caused by war, pandemic, cyber-attack etc.), by setting out actions and strategic processes in relation to the various aspects of the business.

A BCP is not the same as a Disaster Recovery Plan (‘DR’) as these only focus on the internal business systems (such as IT systems and telephony), whereas BCPs consider these as well as the continuity of all other aspects of the business (staff, suppliers, financial arrangements, assets etc.).

Features of a Business Continuity Plan

Often, BCPs identify critical:

  • services/processes that are key to the ‘running’ of the business
  • people that are required to provide these services/processes (incl. those required to enable this)
  • technology required to enable the people to provide the services/processes
  • facilities the extent to which physical premises are required – but also including disaster recovery sites
  • overall strategy of the above – considering the day to day operation of the business, together with longer term strategies for continued trading.

Test your Business Continuity Plan

How will you know if your BCP works, unless you do this? Organisations with BCPs often choose to ‘test’ them out by conducting walk-throughs; simulations (IT infrastructure permitting); or table-top exercises.

Testing should help those key individuals at the heart of implementing the plan upon the occurrence of an incident such as COVID-19 to understand their roles (in a safe environment) and provide an opportunity for the business to understand whether the BCP could be improved – prior to its being required ‘for real’.

Review your Business Continuity Plan

We are all aware that our businesses and the landscape in which we operate evolves at an ever-increasing rate, therefore, it is clearly of critical importance that BCPs are reviewed periodically (such as annually) to ensure that they are ‘fit for purpose’.

Such reviews will also act as further testing – so in addition to any alterations arising as a result of a change in the landscape, frequent reviews will often provide an opportunity for refinement or enhancement of the BCP not foreseen during its preparation or previous testing or reviews.

Further information

We are here to support your business through this difficult time and in the future. To give you the best opportunity to protect the success of your business, taking early and specialist advice is crucial.

If you have any queries, please contact Craig Fiddaman directly by email craig.fiddaman@ashtonslegal.co.uk or by phone 07841 996684.

Alternatively, if you or your business require advice or need assistance for any corporate matters – coronavirus related or not – please get in touch with our specialist Corporate & Commercial team through this website or by calling 0330 404 0778.


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