Advise to small businessesAdvise to small businesses: Planning is crucial

Published 1 February 2006

Small businesses do not have the resources of big businesses, so they need to plan for disasters even more

When we hear the siren of an emergency vehicle we typically would not think: “They are coming for us.” This may explain why only an estimated 5 percent of small businesses have any form of business continuity plan in place. One survey found that only 35 percent of small company managers were even familiar with the term, compared with 90 percent in large companies. Michael Gallagher, the author of Business Continuity Management — How to Protect Your Company from Danger, is the chairman of the Irish branch of the Emergency Planning Society, with 150 members, including emergency planners, emergency services personnel, risk managers, and business continuity practitioners. He says:

Business continuity management is about ensuring that if your organization experiences a disaster or other serious incident you have already considered that possibility. You will have taken steps to reduce the risk of it happening and to minimize the impact if it does happen. You will have a plan in place with which all key managers are familiar, which has been tested, and which will enable your organization to continue to function as close to normal with the least disruption. Small firms should be conscious that even something such as a computer virus could have disastrous implications.

Michael Conway, director of Dublin-based Renaissance Contingency Services, agrees: “The problem is it’s hard to put a satisfactory arrangement in place when you are coming from behind, so planning is crucial.”

-read more in Sandra O’Connell’s London Times article; and see Renaissance Web site

MORE: In a survey involving 100 U.K. businesses, London-based Version One, the document imaging and management vendor, discovered that 60 percent of respondents already claimed to have active business continuity plans. Thirty percent of the companies surveyed said they would be unable to recover if paper business documents were destroyed by fire, flood or terrorist attack, 32 percent claimed it would take them a minimum of twelve months to recover from such an attack, while the remaining 38 percent claimed it would take them about six months to recuperate. Tony Bray, director at Version One, said: “This highlights the absence of measures organizations are taking to ensure business continuity. The only way organizations can ensure all business documents are protected in the event of fire or flood is by electronically storing all documentation. Not only is electronically storing all incoming and outgoing documents common sense from a business continuity point of view, it also saves time, money and storage space.” Stuart Sawle, managing director of reseller Sysop, agreed. “There is still a huge number of businesses that don’t have business continuity plans in place, which is a real opportunity for the channel,” he said. See report; and see Version One Web site