Research suggests that many businesses do not have in proper place contingency plans for dealing with potential disasters. While the current economic climate may mean that resources are stretched for many businesses, at the same time the global crisis also serves to demonstrate the importance of planning ahead in order to protect your business from the impact of unexpected events.
From global pandemics to natural disasters, employee fraud, or loss of key data, an unexpected incident can cause significant problems for a small firm. If adequate protective measures are not in place, they could even spell the end of the business.
MINIMISING THE RISKS
While all business ventures involve a certain amount of risk, you should never expose your business to risk unnecessarily. Contingency planning allows you to protect your business by quantifying the risks and putting in place specific procedures for dealing with them.
An unexpected event could affect any aspect of your business, so you should begin by compiling a list of the key assets your business needs in order to continue operating. This might include: premises and vehicles; stock; plant and machinery; data and IT systems; intellectual property; and staff resources, but may not be limited to just these. Then consider all of the potential events that could affect your business, from floods and fires to bouts of illness. Rank them according to their likelihood of occurrence, and the level of impact they would have on the business.
PLANNING FOR RECOVERY
Once you have determined the risks, you need to set out a strategy to deal with them. Begin with those scoring the highest in terms of likelihood and level of impact. You should involve members of staff from all areas of the business, and make sure that everyone in the firm understands their own specific role.
When you have drawn up your plan, it should be rigorously tested. Thereafter, the plan should become part of your standard operating procedure. Remember to train your staff on the procedure and update your contingency plan on an ongoing basis to reflect any changes within the business.
TOP TIPS FOR AVERTING DISASTER
Have a “clear desk” policy – making sure that working areas are kept clear and free at the end of the day will help to reduce the risk of fire and flood damage, while also improve security.
Hold regular staff briefings – asking staff to update each other regularly on their current projects will assist them in covering each other’s roles in the event of a disaster or a bout of sickness, and will improve communications.