Plan To Fail, Don’t Fail To Plan


Business continuity and its critical importance to business survival is not a new concept. While businesses recognise its significance; a substantial number still view development of continuity plans as a desirable rather than an essential service.

It is, however, a vital part of protecting the operational efficiency of any company. Too many businesses take this for granted and as a result side-step the issue. In doing so they risk this decision coming back to haunt them as and when they are faced with a situation that puts their business at risk – such as an environmental disaster, a cyber attack, a large scale technology failure or, in more relevant experiences, in the event of a strike.

As a result of last week’s national strikes, the UK’s transport system ground to a halt leaving thousands of commuters unable to get into work. As a result, business productivity levels were impacted, resulting in poor customer service and lost revenue which is something businesses cannot afford in this climate.

It was a clear reminder that to survive times such as these, businesses need to have in place appropriate contingency plans so that staff are able to work from home or at an alternative location so that companies can operate as normal.

I have first-hand experience in the business continuity issues firms face, or must be prepared to deal with appropriately. For example, those affected by the public sector strikes could have benefited from remote working capabilities. The advent of superfast broadband, iPads and mobile phones has made location less of an issue and taking steps to enable remote access makes a lot of business sense.

Working closely with companies on the planning, structure and implementation of a continuity plan can leave businesses assured that they have the necessary protocols in place, should the need for a ‘plan B’ arise. Many organisations take an ‘it won’t happen to me’ approach to business continuity planning.

While natural disasters may happen infrequently, IT failure, power loss or, in this case, strike action are increasingly common and solutions to deal with these are not as complex or costly as you may believe.

These uncertain economic times, coupled with extreme weather conditions, terror threats and rise in natural disasters, means that business continuity should be a more important consideration to businesses’ contingency planning and a core component of business strategy in 2012.

Looking to next year, the London Olympics is a prominent large scale event that will cause major disruption to public services. It is therefore vital that businesses across all industries are fully prepared to deal with the impacts it will have on operation, productivity and ultimately their bottom line.

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Neil Stephenson has been with the Onyx Group for the past 10 years and has been an integral part of the growth of the company from Internet start up to full service group. Neil graduated from the University of Sunderland with a degree in Computers in 1993 and started work as a marketing executive at Vaux Breweries that same year. In January 1996, Neil left Vaux to become marketing manager at Onyx Internet, which was at the time a fledgling start up Internet company. He was soon promoted to operations manager, became group sales & marketing director in 2001 and was promoted to CEO in 2007. During his time at Onyx, Neil has been instrumental in the growth of the business. He was involved in the sale of the company in 1999, and then two separate management buy outs, the first in 2001, the second in 2006. Neil was also part of the team that built and launched the Newcastle hosting facility and led a series of strategic acquisitions for the group. Neil has helped to mentor many local technology businesses as well as supporting the embryonic Digital City project in Teesside. He is also a member of the NTI board which helps shape the North East’s IT strategy.