Business Continuity in Small and Medium Sized Business (SME’s)
08 September 2010
Business Continuity was only for large organisations.Now it is imperative that has a Business Continuity plan in place in order to survive a disaster situation.Think about the effects on a business if its premises caught fire. What would happen if it were to experience a major utilities failure or extreme weather conditions? For small and medium sized Enterprises (SME`s) which are localised it is even more imperative to have some Business Continuity capability. In recent years Business Continuity has become the norm in large corporate organisations. Now the same practices are beginning to filter through to smaller business as they begin to see the benefits. The key when implementing a Business Continuity plan, as an SME, is simplicity. No Technical ability is needed and even small changes which are scalable to the company size can mean the difference between disaster and survival. What is Business Continuity? The first step in applying a plan to any type of business is understanding what Business Continuity actually is. Put simply without jargon it is an action performed or applied to ensure business function is available during incident or disaster. Business Continuity takes a number of forms … Workplace recovery If an incident rendered a business premises unusable, to where would it recover its operation? Simple.... to a workplace recovery facility. These are buildings dedicated to providing effective workplace environments to allow continuation of business operations, in emergency situations. Hosting Hosting is the process of holding, either whole or in part, your computer systems and software etc. This can be done offsite allowing complete security should your premises or equipment be lost. IT/Telecoms Backup Allowing your telecoms and IT solutions to be accessible away from your premises with complete security of your data. How to implement a Business Continuity plan. The main objective of an SME is to recover all critical operations and minimize the impact on customers, employees and of course reputation The plan if properly implemented will be invaluable to this. Firstly address the possible disasters that could happen to the specific business. Try ranking them in order of likelihood and importance. Then identify which areas of the business are most important to secure. Starting with premises then moving on to critical equipment and information • How can we contact customers? • Where is the vital data held? • Are our computer systems robust? • Are the staff aware of alternative arrangements? • Can we function without telephone systems? The importance of employees is sometimes missed. The success of any company is determined by the most valuable asset - its people. Identify the risk of your employees and put procedures in place for them to continue work. The plan then needs to be tested and regularly updated. It helps to make someone responsible for this so assigning the role of Business Continuity Project Manager could be useful. Conclusion Each of the elements mentioned earlier (Workplace recovery, Hosting and IT/Telecoms Backup) cover very specific areas of business. Not all will apply to every business template. Taking the time to review the business model will help decide the best option available. Once a workable, tested business continuity solution is in place it will provide complete peace of mind for the organisastion, employees and customers.