Once you have written your business continuity plan, you need to make sure it is understood by everyone involved. This section outlines who you need to consider and some advice on getting across key information to each group.
Below is a list of the key groups or procedures you should bear in mind when communicating your plan, either before or after an emergency:
- neighbours/local community
- customers and clients
- shareholders and banks
Your staff should understand what to do if an emergency occurs, and what their role in the plan is. You should:
- make sure your management team supports the continuity plan
- communicate key parts of the plan (e.g. emergency procedures) to all staff members
- delegate key roles to team members in an emergency and make sure these people understand their responsibilities
- involve your staff in regular practical exercises to test your continuity plan
- listen to feedback from staff and review your plan when necessary. Make sure any changes are then communicated properly.
Ideally you should make local businesses and buildings aware of your continuity plan, so you can work together if an emergency occurs:
- circulate your contingency plan to your nearest neighbours
- discuss your evacuation plans, to make sure you have chosen different evacuation points, to avoid confusion.
Consider setting up a ‘buddy system’ with another organisation, where you agree to help each other with staff and resources in the event of an emergency.
Customers and clients
To ensure the continuity of your business you will need to reassure your customers and clients that you are prepared for an emergency and if an incident does take place, you will need to let your clients know how they will be affected. Your strategy will depend on your type of business, but some of the suggestions below should apply:
- make sure you have a plan in place, and be prepared to discuss it with customers, if asked
- you may have to refer to your plan in contracts, so make sure you are happy with the wording
- if a major incident occurs, consider getting some updates on your website, so customers/clients can quickly get immediate information
- transfer key numbers to an alternative phone, so customers and suppliers can still contact you
- ask staff to contact any clients they work with closely to explain the situation
- organise an email or paper newsletter where you explain the extent of the disruption and what your plans are to get your business back up and running.
You may still have suppliers trying to deliver to you after an incident, so you will need to let them know if there are alternative arrangements:
- make sure you have an up-to-date contact list of suppliers in your plan
- brief staff on alternative arrangements for supplies
- ask relevant staff members to contact suppliers to let them know if deliveries need to be sent to a different location or postponed
- keep suppliers updated with your plans to get your business back up and running.
Shareholders and banks
An incident could affect shareholders’ confidence in your organisation. You need to make sure they are aware of your strategy for minimising the impact of the incident and getting back to business:
- make sure someone senior in your organisation has an up-to-date list of key stakeholders
- contact bank/shareholders as quickly as possible with a report on the situation
- be prepared to outline any losses and give an estimate for when you will be back to normal business
- you may need to organise a loan or overdraft facilities with your bank, in which case you may need to outline parts of your recovery plan.
Communicating during and after an incident
Check out our advice on responding to an incident for more information on communicating with key stakeholders during and after an incident. Any communication relies on you having the correct technology and procedures in place – this should be included in your business continuity plan.
Once you have a business continuity plan that you and your staff have approved, you need to make sure it actually works, so the next stage is to test your plan.