UK, April 05, 2012, 8:26 pm -- /EPR NETWORK/ -- Depressed economies. Worldwide rioting. Exploding PIP breast implants. Cursed cruise liners. And before you even think about consoling yourself with the thought that Spring is just around the corner, bear in mind that, apparently, we’re facing the worst drought for more than 30 years.
Yes, we do have a morbid fascination with all things doom and gloom (without doubt, fuelled by our overly accommodating media). Nonetheless, the fact remains: bad things do happen. And without fail, they will always, always happen at the worst time possible.
Planning for the unexpected is cynical. It’s tedious. And it’s potentially a huge waste of time. But for the occasions when the unexpected does occur, planning is essential. David Bruce, commercial product manager at Aviva comments: "Given the current climate, it's understandable that business owners are focusing on the day-to-day aspects of their business. But that doesn't mean they should ever take their eye off the business planning side of things.”
According to the Federation of Small Business, 80% of businesses affected by a major incident will close within 18 months. This alarming statistic is probably due to the fact majority of SMEs believe it would only take them one week (33%) or one month (31%) to return to normal trading after a major incident. The reality however, is very different. According to Aviva's team of commercial specialists, a return to full normal trading can often take a business more than a year.
We started this discussion with our glass half empty, so let’s not get bogged down in the disheartening detail. Endeavoring to minimise disruption to your business makes good business sense. With a continuity plan in place, you’re more likely to be up and running quicker, and face fewer cost implications. In no time at all, your glass will be brimming, without a doom and gloom statistic in sight.
Top 10 business continuity tips for your business:
Depending on your business' specific circumstances, here are some top tips to keep your company open for business, no matter what happens:
1. - Create a "battle box". It should have the following in it:
- Copy of your continuity plan
- Copy of insurance policy (scan it in)
- Company statutory documents
- List of key advisers including bankers, lawyers etc.
- List of key staff and their contact details
- List of debtors and how to chase them
- List of suppliers
- Bank account details including key banking contacts
- Details of IT backup company (if appropriate)
- Company credit card
- Copies of computer software disks and license keys
- Back-up pay as you go phone(s).
This doesn't have to be a physical box, though it can be (some elements such as backup CDs need to be kept off-site). The best option is to email the ‘soft' contents of your box (i.e. computer files) to your home email address and also to other key members of staff.
2. Establish reciprocal relationships with your neighbours.
- Talk to companies, who you can agree to share office space, facilities etc. in a disaster. Ensuring you have access to a place you can operate in a calm and controlled way will get you through your disaster.
3. Determine what are the most important aspects to your business.
- Consider what would happen if you lost them. Then, determine simple and manageable contingency plans e.g. I must collect my cash. Always keep up-to-date copies of debtors list etc.
4. Make sure you know how to switch your telephone lines in a disaster.
An event as seemingly trivial as a gas leak in the street can mean your phones will ring off the hook – having telephone answering service support from an outsourced provider in place may worth considering.
5. Consider using laptops in your business and take them home at the end of each day.
This gives you inherent resilience with data off-site, but also and more importantly mobile communications.
6. Set up a call-cascading system so that you can communicate well in a disaster.
For example, you speak to three people and they each speak to three people etc. until the message is spread to everyone who needs to hear it.
7. Consider the day-to-day use of document management software.
Many software systems automatically store your emails and key documents off-site. This software is not as expensive as you might think.
8. Agree extended payments terms with your key suppliers in the event of a disaster.
Ensuring you are automatically granted extended payments terms will take the pressure off you, should the worst-case scenario ever occur.
9. Be ready to communicate in a disaster.
Particularly to employees, who will be worried about their jobs. Talk to them regularly. Their loyalty is everything in a disaster.
10. Keep your plan up-to-date!
Any plans or practices that you put in place will only be effective if they’re still accurate and everyone is aware of them.
As the UK’s leading telephone answering service, Moneypenny looks after calls for businesses of all shapes and sizes as well as offering virtual assistants support - from sole traders right up to multinational corporations. For larger companies, Moneypenny can either support an existing reception team or become their fully outsourced switchboard support service.
Moneypenny can also provide business continuity if that’s what a company is looking
for. The company was founded by a brother and sister team in 2000 and the company
now handles in excess of eight million calls a year. Moneypenny is proud to have won
the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and was in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to
Work for 2009/11. Call 08000 199 944 or visit moneypenny.co.uk
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