The commercial world is fuelled by competition and risk, creating an environment in which every company is susceptible to disruption. Continuous operations are essential for business survival, but unexpected events – including natural disasters, disease, human error and crime – can jeopardise business as usual. It is crucial that companies are prepared, so having a well-formulated, comprehensive and up-to-date contingency plan can help maintain day-to-day procedures even under the most exceptional circumstances. Todd Research, a global expert in threat detection X-ray equipment, is passionate about protecting staff and premises as part of an effective business continuity plan (BCP).

Millions of new businesses are launched each year, but only some of them survive in the longer term, with as few as half of all organisations continuing to operate after 5 years. While poor management, cash flow problems, or a lack of competitive advantage can lead to a company’s collapse, many businesses decline because they are unable to recover from a single incident that abruptly devastates their business. The recent global pandemic is one example of a completely unavoidable setback that left both new start-ups and successful major enterprises struggling. However, while some hazards are unpredictable, others – like terrorism and other manmade threats – could potentially be avoided through early detection, proper security measures and effective planning.

Implementing appropriate security measures is an important part of disaster prevention for many companies.

Legal requirements to plan

The UK government recently published the draft legislation, known as the Protect Duty (Martyns Law), that requires organisations to be more prepared for manmade disasters. The aim is to improve business survival rates while providing a sense of security for staff and surrounding communities. This legislation aligns with the important concept of business continuity planning, which refers to the systems and procedures that could enable well-prepared businesses to quickly resume functions following a major disruption. Adhering to Protect Duty legislation and formulating an effective BCP will require companies to take a logical, structured approach to analysing potential threats and the optimal responses to various hazards, while also training staff to implement these plans.

The Protect Duty legislation will ensure that organisations can respond quickly in the event of a major incident to protect business employees and the general public.

A flexible framework

Approaches to business continuity are as diverse as businesses themselves, so every plan should cater to the individual needs of the company. However, the first step in any BCP should always include a comprehensive survey of the organisation and its premises, followed by a detailed risk assessment documenting the potential material, financial, reputational and operational risks that the business may face. Only then can a company begin to plan its preventative actions and responses in the event of a disaster.

A business’s definition of disaster will likely depend on the scale and features of the organisation, but should include any incident that threatens staff, facilities or operations and requires specific measures to restore normal business functions. For example, Todd Research has internal plans in place that cover every eventuality from fire and flood to hacking and even anthrax postal attacks. Although it is impossible to predict every possible occurrence, a BCP should cover a wide range of possible actions for various scenarios. The key characteristic of a successful BCP is flexibility; it provides a basic framework that lays out a business’s response to any type of crisis, whether it is foreseeable or completely unexpected.

Preparation and detection are key

No matter how comprehensive a planning document is, the only truly beneficial BCPs are the ones that have been communicated across the company and tested regularly. Businesses can implement continuity training independently, or rely on external security professionals to help formulate risk assessments, implement security and safety strategies, and practise procedures. Alongside disaster management training, staff should also be regularly updated on current security procedures, and other preventative measures that are taken to avoid disruption from day to day. Many organisations, especially those contained in high profile buildings or participating in major events, have a duty of care to the public to carry out preventative security checks – looking for weapons, explosives and other prohibited items – as a deterrent to potential criminals. However, to keep up with changing threats of violence and terrorism, security procedures and technologies are constantly evolving, so training should also be continuously updated. Training can be carried out practically or theoretically, but it is key to ensure that all personnel are equipped to handle potential future emergencies.

Training is important to ensure that all staff members are aware of security protocols and procedures in the event of a variety of potential emergencies.

Ensuring ongoing safety and success

Any potential incident – whether it is a security breach, a global pandemic, or a natural disaster – can threaten the future of a business, as well as the safety and security of its employees and customers. Preparation is key to avoid disruption, and government legislations will require businesses to reinforce their security procedures and strengthen their disaster recovery schemes. While no amount of security measures can provide absolute protection from all potential threats and disasters, a comprehensive BCP can drastically improve a company’s defences and reduce the impact of any detrimental events on its longevity and success.