Mark Bradford

Published by
Mark Bradford

25th July 2018

Standing in front of your business premises watching everything you have built and depend upon go up in smoke would be a devastating experience for anyone. There was one example I recall, where the fire occurred before computer back-ups were stored on the cloud, and instead the back-up was stored in a fire resistant safe within the building. The heat generated by the fire and the length of time it burned for, were greater than the specifications of the fire safe. In other words the pair lost everything - their equipment, physical business operating systems, business collateral as well as their premises had literally gone up in smoke.

Whether it’s a fire, a compliance failure, or cyber threat, disaster recovery has major consequences for the continuity of any business. Quite simply, business resilience planning is a governance and risk management responsibility that must be regularly addressed to minimise the impact of unforeseen man-made or natural events that might threaten the survival or smooth running of the business.

Firstly you and your team need to start by asking yourselves what would happen if…

For example, what would happen if?
• Your computer back-ups failed?
• A key employee was to leave the business?
• Your best customer stopped using your services?
• Your most profitable product was re-engineered by a competitor and sold in direct competition to yours at ½ the price?
• Your business premises are affected by fire or flood?
• You became seriously unwell and you have no choice but to let your existing team look after the business without your input for a 3-month period?
• Your company is featured in a negative way in a media article?
• A customer regarding poor service generates a social media campaign? (Think of United Airlines recently).
• A major incident of some kind, or major road works prevents you and/or customers getting access to your premises?

Allocating time to identify and understand the nature of social and environmental risks is an important starting point. Set aside a day and time every month to review this. If it is merely a discussion item on the agenda at your monthly operational meeting it won’t get the attention and focus this issue deserves. Discuss and document the scenarios you might face, encourage the whole team to collaborate on how best to deal with the identified scenarios.

Plan and rehearse the responses to all the identified and likely operational risks. Then challenge yourselves and involve the team in role-play situations re-enacting just one of the disaster scenarios. This may seem a little excessive; however there are benefits of doing so. As well as informing your training procedures for dealing with such scenarios, the role play will encourage the team to think together about future possibilities, and as a by-product your business will benefit from improved communication, more engaged team work, shared ownership of the issues and increased commitment and support when and where it’s needed.

By taking the above steps you will be increasing your business resilience and investing in protecting your business and ensuring its survival and sustainability for the future.