Pandemic flu is proving deadly to a significant minority of sufferers. How lethal will it be to your business? Adrian St. Vaughan poses five questions you need to answer to ensure business survival.
It sounds alarming, but current government advice indicates that 30 per cent of your staff may be unavailable through sickness and caring responsibilities. Recent redundancies may mean that those who remain are already overworked.
Clearly articulating your business critical activities, those that your business can’t survive without, is the key to answering this question. There are tools to help – we use a business impact analysis to evaluate businesses and test how they respond in an incident. Combine this with how much risk you are willing to accept and you have a robust foundation for picking your critical activities, setting your recovery times and identifying your critical assets. Without this solid foundation any plan, no matter how comprehensive, may be inappropriate and unrealistic.
Who makes the decisions?
If command and control breaks down, the result is chaos. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
Make and communicate robust decisions by gathering your key decision makers, evaluating new information quickly and making informed choices about how to move forward. Who is ensuring your decisions comply with law? You have a duty of care towards employees and visitors, and regulations and interpretations change frequently.
Will the IT systems will cope?
Increased home working means increased demands on your IT systems. Does your capacity plan support the likely numbers? More worryingly, have you considered system vulnerabilities and insecure home computers? Criminals do not rest because you have invoked business continuity – instead they seize opportunities to gain an advantage. An up-to-date external security test helps tackle these risks.
Is your plan up-to-date, complete and tested?
You know you can’t rely on an out-of-date, incomplete and untested plan – at every test we attend we find oversights, omissions or ways to improve. Ensure testing is fit for purpose, sitting down with your plan and running through a scenario with key staff can be as effective as a full test.
Who else can help?
Draw up a list of people that can assist if needed, for example contactors, temporary staff, retirees and recent leavers. Prepare job specifications in advance and make sure that desk instructions support inexperienced workers.
If your arrangements are keeping you awake at night, there are ways to gain peace of mind. If you lack in-house experience with continuity frameworks like BS25999 we can help write your plan from scratch. If you already have a plan in place, we can provide a quick health check identifying areas for attention. For absolute peace of mind, we can attend and report on the success of your tests.
No matter how much, or how little, you have done to date, one thing is clear. Robust continuity plans give your business the best prognosis for pandemic flu. Act fast, flu is moving swiftly but time and resources are scarce.
To find out more about how BDO can help you manage business continuity and technology risk challenges, please contact George Quigley on 020 7893 2522.