People. Premises. Technology.
Supply Chain. Validation.
Updated: 27/02/19 Original: 05/06/18
Keeping your business running during a disruptive event is critical for cash flow and customer retention. Investing effort to identify and minimise risks beforehand need not be an expensive activity and we have identified 10 easy activities to help you prepare for and respond to unplanned disruptions.
1. Regulations. Let’s get the mandatory legal bit out of the way first…in the UK, under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, every business that employees five or more employees must conduct and record a workplace risk assessment. Under the Regulations, every employer must make a “suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work”. If there are 5 or more employees, the assessment must be recorded. Details are at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/3242/regulation/3/made. This document should be shared with staff. Why is this important – put simply, if everyone understands the risks in their workplace, they are more likely to avoid them and thus reduce the possibility of the disruption and of any injury to a colleague. Very simple activity that can make a significant difference.
2. Emergency Response capability. Bad things happen, so if they happen to you, do you know how many fire extinguishers you need in your building, what type and where? Do your staff know how to use them or whether to just evacuate? Do you know what medical equipment you should hold? Are sufficient of your staff trained in the use of the equipment and do you have coverage for whenever you are open, including peak holiday periods? Is the training in date and has it been practised in the last 6 months?
3. Communications. In the event of an emergency, do you have effective communications with all your staff, wherever they may be? Given that mobile communications may be prioritised to the Emergency Services, do you have an alternative option? Second, can you contact your key clients/customers and your key suppliers to reassure them that you are still open for business or provide an alternative delivery address?
4. Water. Are your pipes correctly insulated and if there is a leak, do you know where the water stopcock is located? Second, if your water supply was disrupted eg through someone digging up the pipe accidentally, how long do your toilets work for and how quickly could you get in portaloos?
5. Portable Appliance Testing. Most businesses will have a programme of regular PAT in order to comply with insurance stipulations. However, with the growth of mobile appliances, have all your employees’ laptops and telephone chargers been PAT tested? If not, could they pose a fire risk and invalidate your insurance?
6. Working from Home. Many businesses enable or encourage Working from Home. Have you checked their working environment – a DSE assessment at home? In an emergency situation affecting your offices, for example the recent UK severe weather, you could face many staff having to work from home simultaneously. Can your server and connectivity cope? Do you have sufficient IT staff available to support employees as they struggle to connect?
7. Critical Supplies. Do you fully understand your critical supplies? For example, you may need a regular delivery of “x” to make your product. If the company delivering “x” fails to deliver, what are your options? Stockroom/warehouse with a few days of stock? Alternative supplier on retainer? Given the supply chain will involve many links from raw material production to shipping and road haulage, there are a number of potential disruption points – are you sure your “just in time logistics” is robust?
Much has been written about cyber-security and GDPR so I will consider a couple of other areas.
8. Work in Progress. In an emergency, laptops and PCs could be lost or significantly damaged. Are your staff trained to save documents to a “Work in Progress” type folder on the server rather than on their desktop?
9. IT Help Desk. In a business disruption event, most people will be told initially to work from home if they can. However, for the IT Department to enable home working could require significant work. In addition to resolving any Disaster Recovery issues, other IT considerations could range from: who has lost their laptop/PC and thus needs a new one – bought, configured, delivered to employee; can everyone connect to the server/folders; do Heads of Department know how to manage Conference Calls to support and coordinate staff and activity? Who staffs the Help Desk, where is it, does everyone know the number?
10. Practice and Familiarity. The Deeming Cycle refers to “Plan, Do, Check, Act” and this cycle has been adopted by the Business Continuity Institute. Once you have completed your planning and training, are you confident it will actually work in an emergency when everyone is under stress? The only way to assure this is via regular exercising. It is too late to discover that an element of your plan doesn’t work when the survival of your business is at risk.
Inverroy Crisis Management Ltd is passionate about ensuring that your business is ready for, can respond to and recover from any disruptive event.
Our Business Resilience Health Check has 100 factors to consider for maximum business resilience and consultancy options range from a half day workshop to embedded support.