Business continuity

What is business continuity planning?

Business continuity planning is a process that helps your business to continue during any sort of disruption. Really, it’s about having a ‘Plan B’ to help you cope when things go wrong. Having a plan in place means that when disruptions occur you can get your business up and running again quickly, returning to ‘business as usual’.

What could go wrong?

There are several everyday risks that we all face, but which could also bring disruption to your business for short or long periods of time.

Some common risks include:

  • temporary or permanent loss of premises (e.g. due to fire, flood, being inside a police cordon)
  • loss of utilities (e.g. due to water, electricity and gas failure, flooding)
  • loss of IT and communications systems (e.g. due to equipment failure, utilities failure, network failure)
  • loss of staff (e.g. due to pandemic flu, heavy snow preventing staff getting to work)
  • loss of key suppliers (who do you rely on?)
  • disruption to transport (freight services, supply chains and fuel shortages)

What are the benefits of having a plan?

Effective business continuity arrangements will:

  • reduce the chance of disruption to your business
  • minimise impact if disruption happens
  • reduce the financial losses you incur
  • prevent loss of business to competitors
  • enhance your reputation and build customer
  • confidence
  • build staff confidence
  • ensure that you comply with legal requirements
  • good business continuity planning can also give your business a competitive edge – many organisations will not use suppliers who don’t have continuity plans in place

Getting started

There is a simple process that can help you to analyse your business and help you think about what can go wrong. There are five key stages with some simple questions to help you think about what you need to do.

We've also developed a template plan to use as a starting point. Download at the foot of this section.

Stage 1: Analyse your business

  • What does your business produce?
  • Which key staff do you need to run your business?
  • What key resources (supplies, equipment and systems)
  • Do you need to run your business?

Stage 2: Assess your risks

  • What could happen to stop your business running? (Think of premises, suppliers, utilities, IT losses)
  • How will these risks impact on your business? (Would you be unable to make products or deliver your services?)

Stage 3: Develop a strategy

  • Can you do anything to reduce the risks to your business?
  • What alternative plans could you make to help you continue to run your business? (Think of your ‘Plan B’)
  • How will you get your business back to ‘business as usual’?
  • (How will you tell customers, how will you re-stock?)

Stage 4: Make a plan

  • What actions should you or your staff take when emergencies or disruptions happen?
  • What information will you need and how will you access it? (Keeping staff and customer contact information at an alternative location, a list of useful telephone numbers handy for emergencies)
  • Keep the plan short and specific – it should tell your staff exactly what you need them to do in an emergency

Stage 5: Rehearse your plan

  • Make sure your staff know about your plan, how to access it and what to do
  • Practice the actions in your plan to help identify any problems in advance
  • Make sure you update things like telephone contacts and locations when they change

Help and advice

We can help local businesses and organisations from the voluntary sector with general advice on business continuity planning.

For information please contact:

The Resilience Team
North Tyneside Council
Public Health
1st Floor, Quadrant East
The Silverlink North
Cobalt Business Park
North Tyneside
NE27 0BY


You can get further information from the Business Continuity Institute.

Also of interest: