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Whatever the weather…

Yesterday pretty much everything in the South-East came to a grinding halt because of the snow. According to London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, it was the "right kind of snow, it's just the wrong kind of quantities." Of course.

Living in Hove, I had no chance of getting into the office. All train services to London were suspended. Colleagues living in other parts of "the countryside" had the same problem. The Londoners were mostly able to battle into the office despite bus suspension and tube delays. One colleague even took the boat from Greenwich, which intriguingly she described as romantic…

Ironically though, the first item on my to-do list for Monday was "Finish drafting SHR Business Continuity Plan" to cover how we would keep the business going in case of disasters such as fire, flood, power failure, terrorist attacks and, of course, the wrong quantities of snow.  Still they say it's important to test your plan regularly and review it accordingly.

I think what yesterday showed us was the importance of having a plan in place so that staff could be contacted quickly and easily. Managers need to hold staff contact details offsite and it is useful to agree beforehand who is responsible for contacting whom and reporting on their whereabouts. If you can find out quickly who will be in the office and who will be working from home or unavailable, it is easier to plan how to prioritise key business tasks.

Although snow might not seem like a disaster (particularly not to all the happy people out building snowmen yesterday), the Federation of Small Businesses estimated 20% of the UK's working population, or 6.4 million people did not make it to work yesterday at an estimated cost of £1.2bn to businesses. Clearly anything businesses can do to minimise losses, such as pre-agreeing plans for staff to work from home, is important.

So yesterday's snow came as a handy reminder of the disruption that even something relatively minor can cause. Ultimately you never know what might happen and organisations that have a business continuity capability are far more
likely to survive the effects of a major incident than those that
don't.

2 comments to this post

  •  :  We are frequently required to provide our Business Continuity Plan and or Disaster Recovery Plan for the many tenders and PQQs that we do for clients, hence the overhaul Fiona was finalising yesterday. Hers is so much better than our previous 'back of a cigarette packet' one and it really helped us yesterday. I was disappointed, however, to find that the very (often large) clients that we have to provide this for dont really have their own, nor know how to deploy it if they do. We were not phoned by one client to be told how to deploy our temporary work force for yesterday's extra-ordinary conditions. Who will now pay the intrepid individuals who got to work only to find the door closed. A 5 mile walk in became a 5 mile walk home and if the client has their way no pay at the end of it! It is very easy for the big people to hammer the little people, but perhaps they should work on the 'do-as-I-do' principle not the 'here's another hoop to jump through'. Now back to Business Continuity!
  •  :  Fiona, we have focused a lot of effort recently in providing DR solutions for small to medium sized businesses and recently won a tender for a large solicitors firm in the London. The solution comprises of standby servers and LAN equipment which effectively replicates their network and we also provide a guaranteed service level agreement to reinstate a functioning solution within the agreed timescales. Yesterday has bought it home to many companies how vulnerable they can be when access to the office is limited however business continuity is not always a high priority for small companies and often neglected because of the complexity of compiling a suitable solution. Our products make that task far simpler and affordable for small businesses. I will be emailing over a proposal shortly so please feel free to can me to discuss the details. Adam Plant, Director – Paralogic Networks Ltd. www.paralogic.co.uk

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