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Flooding highlights benefits of Business Continuity

Flood signResidents of flood-hit areas of Cumbria and Scotland have started their clear-up, whilst Lancaster is still without power, and Lancaster University had brought forward the end of term.  Some 42,ooo homes are still without power, and many businesses are without power and/or have been flooded, including the McVities factory in Carlisle, last flooded in 2005.

This morning, I was listened to a Radio 4 interview with Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, where she clarified that risk cannot be completely eliminated.  Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, has also stated that ‘You can never completely protect all communities. What you can do is make the best judgements about the most appropriate ways to protect the maximum number of people in a given place.”  Having worked previously in emergency planning, I am well aware that this is the case.  Improved drainage upstream, and flood defence mechanisms to protect some areas may mean that the problem is pushed downstream but, ultimately, the water has to be able to go somewhere.

It has been highlighted that, whilst the flood defences have been breached by the record-breaking rainfall that Storm Desmond has produced, these defences have enabled some properties to be protected, and have given people time to be able to protect themselves and precious belongings.

Lessons for Business Continuity

The Environment Agency now talk about ‘Flood Risk Management’ rather than ‘flood prevention’.  This is equally applicable to businesses; things will happen, and businesses should ensure that they are managing the risks to their business so that they are able to minimise the impact and to respond effectively.

As well as demonstrating the need for Business Continuity plans, Storm Desmond highlights the benefits of following the Business Continuity life cycle:

  • Identifying critical activities and products/services helps to understand the most critical aspects of a business that need to be recovered;
  • A risk assessment identifies those areas of a business most at risk, and would help to prioritise mitigation activities which would serve to prevent incidents happening or to minimise the impact or, to adapt Sir James Bevan’s statement, to make ‘best judgements about the most appropriate ways to protect’ the most critical part of the business;
  • The Business Impact Analysis identifies the critical resources that are required, and how quickly they would be needed in order to restore critical activities and services;
  • Communications procedures and plans enable effective warning and reporting as the incident develops, and also assist with effective cooperation and liaison with neighbours, responding authorities and key stakeholders;
  • Crisis/Incident Management plans enable a rapid and well-coordinated response;
  • Business Continuity plans assist companies in their recovery and return to Business As Usual; and
  • Exercises and training ensure that the plans will work, and that staff have awareness of and confidence in the procedures.

Cambridge Risk Solutions offers assistance with all aspects of the Business Continuity lifecycle; contact us today on 0800 035 1231

Written by Helen Molyneux