Time for some continuity

Time for some continuity

Antoni… Betty… Cillian: These names may not be familiar now but in the months to come they, alongside Daisy, Elliot and others, may become all too real. For these are the official names which will mark the first storms of Autumn 2022.

Shared out among the meteorological services of the UK, Ireland, and The Netherlands; the way in which names are chosen varies across the different countries. So whilst Betty was the overwhelming favourite in a UK twitter poll to name the second storm of Autumn, the storm names put forward by The Netherlands represent influential Dutch scientists.

The practice of naming storms may seem fanciful, but it does have a practical purpose. Research from the Met Office indicates that when Storm Eunice hit in February 2022, 98% of those in the affected area were aware of the warning with, the Met Office say, ‘91% of those taking action to protect themselves, their property, or their business.’

This brings us on to an important point. Being able to effectively protect a business from the ravages of storms does require some forward planning. That’s where a business continuity plan (BCP) comes into play. Essentially, BCPs look at the potential impact of a range of scenarios before identifying possible remedies.

For example, you might consider what would happen if access to the business premises is restricted. It doesn’t really matter if that restriction comes about because of an incident in the local area, a storm, or another reason. What does matter is that if employees, suppliers and customers can’t access the premises, how is the company going to get as close as they can to business as usual. Remedies here might include the use of alternate premises, working from home, arranging for customer deliveries in place of pick ups and so on. Depending on the business, plans may also include the deployment of alternate IT or phone systems, either by using existing back-ups or by switching on to a parallel running system.

Responses such as these take time to identify and put in place. Waiting until the first storm of autumn is announced is rarely going to give companies sufficient time to identify and set up alternate working arrangements. And even for those companies which already have a plan in place, now is the time to dust off the plan and ensure that it is brought up to date. Having a business continuity plan falls under the part of a director’s duty to promote the success of the company and to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence. Don’t leave it to Antoni to prove how important this aspect of company planning can be.

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