When British Prime Minister Harold McMillan was asked by a journalist what was likely to blow governments off course he is supposed to have replied “Events, dear boy, events”.
Now, more than 50 years later unforeseen circumstances are just as likely to interfere with the business plans of any small, medium or large organisation.
In the last few years swine flu, extreme weather conditions, recession and terrorism have all had a devastating impact on thousands of companies already struggling to contend with everyday risks of IT malfunctions and cash flow difficulties.
Official figures reveal that more than 80 per cent of companies involved in a major incident either never reopen or close within 18 months yet many could have continued to trade if they had prepared a proper contingency plan.
What if … there was a major incident which prevented access to your offices?
What if … a workman cut through communications cables and cut off all internet and telecom connections ?
What if …. one of your suppliers had a crisis and you couldn't deliver to your own clients?
What if …. there was a negative media story about your company or product which effected sales?
What if …. your office building fell foul of environmental legislation and had to undergo emergency repairs.
“Best practice says that every business should have disaster recovery plans in place but for many businesses it is now compulsory in order to fulfill legal, preferred supplier or insurance requirements,” said George Berrich, Managing Director of Edinburgh Continuity, Scotland's leading provider of straightforward, low cost disaster recovery for small and medium sized businesses.
Every organisation, irrespective of size, needs to know which of their processes and resources are critical to survival and make sure there are suitable plans in place to ensure they can continue to service their customers, deal with suppliers, keep staff and stakeholders happy and handle the media if necessary.
“Business planning is more than just making sure the building and contents insurance is up to date,” said John Allan of Always Contactable, experts in managed telecom services.
“Loss of your ability to communicate can quickly turn into a major risk to your business because if customers can't get through to you they may go elsewhere. Silence is deadly when it comes to business. Customers, suppliers, staff and others will lose confidence in an organisation they can't contact and recovery will made much harder as a result.
“Even a short disruption to communications can have a disproportionate effect – how do you measure the calls you don't get and the business you have lost?
“Everybody thinks it won't happen to them but intending not to have a crisis is not the same as planning not to have one.”
To help businesses plan to avoid problems Edinburgh Continuity and Always Contactable, in association with Stop Press! Media, Create Ts & Cs and Energy Solutions Consultants, are to provide a FREE one-day seminar on June 28 at Edinburgh Continuity, 16 St Mary's Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SU.
The event, which runs from 10am until 4pm, will provide an introduction on how to:
find business continuity solutions in Scotland
prepare a voice continuity plan
be aware and protect against acts of terrorism
guard against legal arguments with properly worded terms and conditions
avoid a potential crisis caused by new environmental legislation
handle the media and get your messages out to stakeholders in an emergency
organise alternative transport arrangements in a disaster scenario
In addition to experts from Edinburgh Continuity and Always Contactable there will be representatives from Lothian & Borders Special Branch to discuss anti-terrorism measures; Stop Press! Media to provide help on working with the media in an emergency; Create Ts & Cs with advice on the importance of carefully worded terms and conditions; the Scottish Continuity Group to advise on the Scottish perspective; First Group plc to advise on travel during and emergency; and Energy Solutions Consultants to talk on the implications of environmental legislation on businesses.