Improving the Business Continuity capabilities of SME companies

Better engagement and services are needed for the SME sector

Small and Medium Sized business | business continuity and resilience Despite the progress made on the implementation of BCM within organizations over nearly two decades, the depth and breadth of planning in smaller firms remains a cause of concern.

These businesses are the backbone of the economy employing more people and delivering the essential ingredients of modern life in all its flavours.

Why only grown-ups should be allowed to use computers.

Cyber Security and SME Business

The risks of doing nothing and the problem with SME's

The response received from most small businesses when we talk about the threat that they expose themselves to simply by connecting to the Internet, is normally along the lines of, “Oh we’ve got that covered”.  When we’re met with such a blasé attitude, we sense some sport and probe a little further.
The term ‘covered’ turns out to be an interesting phenomenon, as connecting to the Internet can be likened to waking up one morning and finding a rabid dog sitting on your bed - if you’re lucky you’ll be fine, but there’s a very strong probability of things going horribly wrong, resulting in a potentially deadly infection. For most, a more technical definition of ‘covered’ is probably the router provided by their Internet service provider (ISP) and some free antivirus software.

Business Continuity for Dummies launched by Cabinet Office and Wiley publishing

The popular yellow cover Dummies Guides from Wiley adds a new title to the series today focusing on  Business Continuity. The Dummies Guide to Business Continuity has been published with support from the Cabinet Office especially to help support the 4.5 million small and medium sized enterprises in the UK  understand, quickly apply and gain the benefits of good Business Continuity practices.
SMEs matter and are vital in supporting their local communities cope with disasters and that’s why the government ensured that the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) committed to help SMEs improve their resilience to civil emergencies.  In partnership with the private sector, including the Continuity Forum and with sponsorship from the BCI and EPS, this new Dummies Guide aims to provide easy access to expert advice to help them prepare and cope with disruption of all kinds.

Global Continuity extends Global Assist reach with new deal

Global Continuity has signed agreements with Fusion Insurance Services and Oliva Underwriting Management to deliver Global Assist, GC's Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Solution to the SME Sector and reduces potential costs for all parties. 

SME's still lack Back up protection


Most small and medium-size businesses are still failing to protect their firms vital data. This is the finding of a survey undertaken by Vanson Bourne and commissioned by Acronis.

BCM for Beginners cont'd...

How to develop a business continuity plan

Who is responsible for business continuity management?

BCM has grown out of the need to provide IT disaster recovery. While this has focused on IT systems and networks, business continuity management is broader in its scope and encompasses crisis management combined with business, as well as IT resumption. Drilling down from this top-level it will involve identifying key business functions and revenue sources as well as the need to maintain the reputation of the organization as whole.

Together, these factors make business continuity management the shared responsibility of an organization’s entire senior management, from the chief executive through to the line-of business managers who are responsible for crucial business processes. Although IT remains central to the business continuity process, IT management alone cannot determine which processes are critical to the business and how much the company should pay to protect those resources.

It is important that business continuity management has the full support of an organization’s most senior committee to ensure the initiative does not stall. One member of this committee should be made the overall sponsor with responsibility for initiating BCM across the entire organization. With this top level support it should be possible for the undoubted difficulties that will be faced in putting together the plan to be overcome.

An overall BCM co-ordinator should then be appointed to report directly to the senior committee member responsible. This person is ideally someone who understands the business structures and people. They require good programme management, communication and interpersonal skills and need to be a good team leader. In addition a budget must be allocated for the initial stages of the process. For larger organizations matrix team management is the best method to approach business continuity management. The team will be drawn from existing managers within key divisions and or locations.

It is expected that they will not be full time members of the team but will need to dedicate appropriate time to the BCM process.

Business Continuity Management principles

The Business Continuity Institute recommends that the following principles are utilized when devising and implementing a BCM plan:

· BCM is an integral part of corporate governance
· BCM activities must match, focus upon and directly support the business strategy and goals of the organization
· BCM must provide organizational resilience to optimize product and service availability
· BCM must optimize cost efficiencies
· BCM is a business management process that is undertaken because it adds value rather than because of governance or regulatory considerations * All BCM strategies, plans and solutions must be business owned and driven

Bearing these in mind it becomes easier to develop your BCM plan.

Overview of the BCM life-cycle

There are five steps that should be followed when developing a business continuity management plan:

1. Analyze your business
2. Assess the risks
3. Develop your strategy
4. Develop your plan
5. Rehearse the plan

Due to the rapidly changing nature of business conditions the process is not static, but cyclical.

Once you have worked through and completed step 5 it is necessary to go back to step 1 and review the whole process again to ensure that any external or internal changes have not made elements of the plan redundant.

Analyze your business

This is the first stage of the business continuity management life-cycle as it is necessary to understand at the outset exactly where your business is vulnerable. You will need the fullest possible understanding of the important processes inside your organization and between you and your customers and suppliers.

This stage of the process will also help to gain the involvement and understanding of other people and departments and will also help identify if any parts of the organization already have plans or procedures in-place to deal with an unplanned event.

Assess the risks

There are two aspects to every risk to your organization:
1. How likely is the risk to happen?
2. What effect will it have on your organization?

Business continuity management will provide a framework for assessing the impact of each one. Many organizations usually define their assessment in terms of cost. For example:

· How much could you afford to lose if an emergency prevented you from doing business for days, weeks or months?

· How would suppliers, customers and potential customers react if your business received adverse publicity because you were unprepared for an incident?

There are three ways to work with the information you have gathered to provide an assessment of the risks.

1. Ask ‘what if?’ questions.
2. Ask what the worst-case scenario is.
3. Ask what functions and people are essential, and when.

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BCM Advice for beginners cont'd

Why organizations need business continuity planning

The speed with which modern business is transacted means that a disruption of only a few hours can have a catastrophic impact on the profitability and reputation of the affected organization.

Although this will have an immediate and adverse impact, it can also damage the long term viability of the organization as well.

BCM Advice for beginners

Business Continuity for Beginners

The Continuity Forum is pleased to share with you a brief overview of the business continuity management process for those new to the subject. 

UK Whiteout - SMB's need better Business Continuity Planning


With SMB's facing severe disruption the Continuity Forum asks is it always someone elses fault?

As business struggles in the face of economic recession, heavy snowfall across the UK has added to their woes, but also highlights the lack of Business Continuity Planning in most businesses.

BCM & SME's getting started

The terrorist attacks of September 11th should have been a wake call for the business community in Britain and across the world. However, nearly four years on, national surveys show nearly 49% of all UK businesses lack plans to keep the wheels turning if the unthinkable happens. Astonishingly, that number has only improved by 5% since the 9/11 attacks. Where there are plans – mostly among the larger and more regulated businesses – one fifth have never been tested.

Why has business been so slow to get its act together?

We watched as the 9/11 attacks unfurled, we watched the Madrid Bombings, we watched, as there were targeted attacks on business overseas. But an attitude of “it could never happen to us” permeated the wider business community.

Small business: A chronic lack of preparedness

Bombs, hurricanes, power cuts. What does it take to get small and medium-sized enterprises to prepare for the worst with a business continuity plan? The London Chamber of Commerce, whose members have suffered all of the above in the last 20 years, often on multiple occasions, believes that as many as 44 per cent of SMEs in the capital have no contingency plans.

Big boys pressure suppliers to get house in order

Compliance pressures have forced large companies to put disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place, and now these companies are looking at their supply chains and have identified small and mid-sized suppliers as a source of risk, according to Simon Mingay, research vice president at analyst group Gartner.

Tighter integration of the supply chains means that companies have an increased dependency on the availability of their partners' IT systems, and so big companies are insisting that smaller suppliers get their houses in order if they want to do business.

City streets flooded after deluge

Torrential rain and hail brought flash floods to Leeds on Tuesday - sparking hundreds of calls to the fire brigade.

Brokers back business continuity

New initative pushes value of BCM to SME firms

Research commissioned by the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) has revealed that millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK are failing to protect themselves and their employees against the threat of emergencies such as fire, flood or acts of terrorism.

BIBA has launched a campaign to encourage SMEs to address business continuity issues. Government figures suggest nearly 20% of businesses suffer a major disruption every year.

The personal side of Business Continuity

The benefits of Business Continuity for small business

Often those charged with developing organisational BCM speak of the difficult of engaging with 'management' and of a considerable amount of lip service being paid to both the scope and depth of BCM planning. The modern world of business is a rum old place these days. 

A recent study by the Economic Research Council showed that for senior managers and business owners the concept of a 9 till 5 job is nothing but a distant memory, if it ever really existed at all. Success on the career ladder has meant long hours, often extensive travel either to get to and from the office or travelling to secure the next deal. Lunches are taken at desks and grabbing 20 minutes of quiet time during the hectic pace of the day is often seen as a luxury. The pressure to achieve is intense and it adds up to show an extended work schedule often adding well over 15 hours a week in 'extra' time spent working. 

Amidst, this frantic pace Business Continuity has been struggling to command the executive attention really needed to develop effective planning and I can easily sympathise, but only to a certain extent, as often it takes a real crisis to rock people out of their inertia and really appreciate what Business Continuity Management is really all about. The headlines often use big disasters or terrorism such as 9/11 to show why BCM is vital for organisations and this is understandable to a degree, but I often feel that paints the wrong picture, disconnecting people from the real threats and consequently the benefits. 

One of the lesser known facts about 9/11 is the unemployment it caused; in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the WTC over 250,000 were virtually immediately unemployed, without any warning at all. One minute the pay cheques were coming regular as clockwork, the next nothing and we are not just talking low pay grade roles here either. Many senior executives were also left wondering what they were going to do to meet the monthly payments. Ironically, often these were same people who had not been able to spare the time to make the plans that the organisations now desperately needed. 

Now as I said earlier the big disasters tend to warp the view, but the lesson above translates to all serious disruption events one minute every thing is fine and the next your in the middle of a crisis that could change your whole life in a very personal way! 

It doesn't really matter what causes the crisis, it can be a large or small scale event affecting thousands of organisations or just one. What matters is the ability to cope with it. Two thirds of new business ventures fail within the first 18 months and only around 10% of companies make it to their 5 year anniversary, business is risky and to succeed learning to manage commercial issues is vital, but year after year businesses that otherwise may be successful fail due to their failure to develop a robust BCM programme with all the problems that brings. 

Our latest research shows that for smaller companies a serious event will drive them over the edge and some 50% of them will not see out the year. For them especially it's crazy to get through the business minefield and then leave it all to chance by not having a proper BCM programme in place. Think about all those hours worked, all that time at the office, on motorways, at airports or on trains; a few hours working on your Business Continuity Management process is the safety net to make sure that investment is not wasted. More than that BCM is a positive investment in the future of the organisation and ultimately yours too. 

Our work at the Continuity Forum takes us around some of the best prepared organisations in world, companies that carefully calculate the returns on every penny spent and it should be noted that the biggest, most successful ones are most often those with the most developed and extensive plans in place. It is not coincidence in my opinion, but rather compelling proof of value. 

Now many in smaller businesses may at this point say it's “all right for them, they have the money and resources to do it”, but that is rather a short sighted, even simplistic view. These corporate leaders don't do it for fun, they do it for money, pure and simple, yet their operational structures are far more complex and resource intensive. The truth is for smaller organisations BCM is actually far simpler and offers even greater returns especially for the owners and executives. With the large corporate there is, for most scenarios, a resilience that arises from diversity; the spread of income and resources reduces the likelihood of a catastrophic event wiping out the organisation. However, with smaller organisations the exposure is far greater due to an inherent and almost inevitable concentration of critical risk factors. 

It need not be so though, with sensible management acting responsibly and creating a Business Continuity Management process, suitably structured and focused on the most serious risks facing the organisation. These risks can be reduced dramatically, very often averting the events from occurring and if they do enabling the business to cope very much better with the disruption caused. As a final thought let me ask you what you'd be thinking, in a few months or even a few years, if you were standing outside your burnt out or flooded office, will you be wondering what to do next or wishing you had heeded this warning, or will you be quietly thanking your lucky stars that you had the good sense to put plans in place to deal with the crisis in front of you. I certainly know which I'd prefer. 

Russell Price Continuity Forum The Continuity Forum will be continuing our work promoting BCM to smaller companies both directly and through or public and private sector partners. For more details on these activities and the general activities of the Continuity Forum please contact us directly on +44 208 993 1599 or mail us HERE! Please do contact Sara Mckenna or Russell Price . END 

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