Business must be ready when disaster strikes

The publication last week of two reports into the 7 July terrorist attacks in London, coupled with the findings of the 2006 Business Continuity Management survey, serve as a timely reminder of the importance of business continuity planning.

Threats to our livelihoods – be they natural disasters, terrorist attacks or accidents such as the Buncefield oil depot fire – are ever present, and we live in the knowledge that disaster could strike at any time.

But what is being done to prepare for the worst? Not enough, according to the 2006 Business Continuity Management survey. Most of the managers interviewed (83%) said they had no plans for high levels of absence beyond the short term.

Worst still is the fact that IT systems are seemingly more important than people, with two-thirds of organisations having a continuity plan for their technology.

OK, so we can replicate and back up IT systems off-site. But you still need people to operate the technology. The notion that ‘it won’t happen to us’ is not a good enough defence for not being prepared. Yet it persists.

The latest London Business Survey showed half of the capital’s businesses do not have a contingency plan, and that some of these organisations still believe disaster won’t strike them.

There have been more than enough disasters in the past few years to act as a wake-up call to employers, which makes the news of this lack of planning even more alarming.

Predicting what kind of disaster might strike is nigh on impossible. But ensuring that in the event of a crisis there is a plan in place for loss of people and premises, is not.


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