Following the launch of BS25999, the first British Standard for business continuity management, local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) must act swiftly to put business continuity arrangements in place, or risk losing their biggest customers in 2007.
Business continuity and disaster recovery planning have become an increasingly important part of modern business and are now underpinned by key governance such as company law and wider industry regulation (via the FSA). Furthermore, since April 2006, the Civil Contingencies Act made business continuity planning an obligation for Councils and so-called Category One responders (the emergency services). Despite these drivers, there has been no common ground on what having a business continuity plan actually entails and how companies should go about it.
The publishing of BS25999 finally provides this guidance, and with supply chain continuity one of the key concerns within the UK marketplace, business continuity professionals will be looking to propagate business continuity through their supply chain using the new standard as a benchmark. This means smaller organisations will soon be feeling pressure from their major clients to adopt and comply with it. Councils are already including the need for business continuity in their standard purchasing terms
Many have already likened the impact of BS25999 to the uptake in quality standards such as BS5750 and ISO9000, where SMEs began to be excluded from retaining or bidding for large contracts with Corporate clients if they were without the ISO quality standard..
For many SMEs in the UK however, having a reliable business continuity plan is seen as a luxury that only larger organisations can spare the time and budget for. Paradoxically though, the impact of a disaster is proportionally far greater for a smaller firm than would be the case in a larger organisation, as they dont have the numbers of support staff and infrastructure that can mitigate the impact on the business.
This appears to be confirmed by a recent UK market survey which suggests that whilst less than 40% of UK SMEs have a business continuity plan, some 80% of SMEs without a business continuity plan at the time of a major incident were never able to reopen.
Given the current political climate and well-publicised disasters such as the Buncefield explosion, its in the interests of the entire UK economy and its consumers to ensure that all organisations receive education, assistance and access to affordable solutions in respect of their business continuity planning, regardless of size. Smaller companies are the engine room of the UK economy and have as much right to survive and prosper as their bigger neighbours.
ICM Computer Group plc will be exhibiting at the Business Continuity Expo and Conference held at EXCEL Docklands from 28th - 29th March 2007 - the UK's definitive event for managing risk, resilience and recovery. This event will explore the solutions and best practice to ensure operational continuity and protect a company's interests before during and after an incident.