4 Top Tips For BCP

Written by FSB Insurance Service with support from Inoni, our specialist business continuity planning software and support providers.

It’s not just big businesses who need Business Continuity Plans (BCP). Generally the need for small businesses to have one in place is often driven by the need to win or keep customers.

Your client may have to carry out due diligence on your business before they trade with you. This can include a requirement for you to have a Business Continuity Plan.

It may be because they want assurance that your business is capable of recovering service to them in time-frames that they find acceptable, in the event that there's an emergency.

But what does an acceptable business continuity plan look like for a small business? For many, it doesn’t need to be an all-singing, all-dancing management system.

In many cases, you'll just need to demonstrate that you understand the major risks to your business. Proving that you are able to recover should anything happen.

If you need to write a BCP, or you already have one but aren’t sure if it's any good, you may need to take some action. Here's some tips to help keep you on track with your continuity planning.

Prioritise Your Risks

One of the more important parts of starting your continuity planning is to know what risks to plan for first, it can help to have a model for this activity. Our MD David Perry has a simple formula for identifying what you need to plan for.

Severity (how bad this risk occurring would be for you business) X Likelihood (how likely a thing is to happen) = Priority

Start by identifying all of your major risks by severity then score them from 1-5 for likelihood next do the same for severity, multiply these two figures and the result is the level of priority you should assign to the risk.

For example if your business is near a river then you might choose to give flood risk a higher likelihood than other risks like supply-chain issues.

Or if you are dependent on goods from abroad then you might score the risk of supply chain problems highly for severity, after all if international shipping slows or stops then you might not be able to trade at all.

To help you with this we’ve created a free BCP prioritiser worksheet for you to download here.

Plan For The Right Risks

Your plan must show that you have considered any dangers that have the potential to stop you trading.

Every business' risks are different, so it is important to understand this and focus on what you actually need to plan for.

For example a fire isn’t a continuity risk if all staff work from home. Steps you should take include:

  • Define what risks there are to your business. How much financial, reputational and service level disruption is too much?
  • Based on your definitions, identify risks that could impact your ability to trade.
  • Each risk will have an effect on your business, and quite often different risks will have the same effects. For example fire, flood, explosion or arson may all result in the same effect – the loss or damage of property.

Many types of incidents may only have one effect. Identifying these effects, and planning for them, means that you only need to write strategies for a handful of scenarios. After all, a fire is a fire no matter how it started, the end result is the same.

Planning for the effects of incidents makes the process much easier to manage. This provides you and your customers with assurance that, even if you haven’t identified every single risk to the business, your scenarios, probably, provide a response for them.

Recover Services In Reasonable Time-frames

Your customers need to feel confident that your business will recover quickly enough for them if anything goes wrong. So, your plan needs to show how quickly you can recover from each of your identified scenarios. You need to estimate how quickly you must recover each part of your service or production to avoid an unacceptable impact.

Can you afford to lose an hour, a day, a week, a month? There are many factors which affect how long this will take, but ultimately it is driven by how long your customers will tolerate an outage from you.

Be Realistic

Finally, you need to write a strategy for each scenario, and of course, it needs to work. So, for each scenario;

  • Identify what might be lost. Think about whether buildings, equipment, stock, people, IT are affected by the incident, and need recovering in some way.
  • Write a list of practical tactics and processes you will use to recover. These will be specific to your scenario. For each tactic you should identify who within your organisation is responsible for implementing it, and how quickly they must do it.
  • Crisis management is an essential element of BCP since it effectively buys more time to recover. Write down how you will communicate with staff, customers and suppliers to reduce the potential impact.
  • Finally, test each strategy to make sure your plan is effective. Get everyone with a role in the plan around a table and walk through the scenario. Use it to enhance capability and identify any gaps in the plan.

If your BCP is ticking all these boxes, you should be well on your way to having a credible response.

Are you an FSB member but haven’t registered with FSB Insurance Service? Register for free today and you can download a guide to BCP from our partners at Inoni here.

Do you need to discuss your business continuity planning? Just fill in the form below to book a call back and a qualified FSB Insurance Service broker will contact you as soon as possible.