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Resilience through a recession

FCCA and West of Scotland Members' Network Panel member, Houston Ayre, has recently sold his consultancy firm to become a director of Stirling-based specialist business continuity consultancy, Teed Business Continuity.

So what is business continuity and why is it important in the current economic climate? Why would companies consider additional investment in something perceived as non-core at a time when discretionary spending is under serious scrutiny?

We asked Houston for the answers ......

As an experienced finance director who has operated at a senior level in the public and private sectors, I have always taken risk management and corporate governance very seriously. Business continuity management, which sits within this framework, has emerged as a respected management discipline over the last 20 years, culminating in the development of British Standard BS25999 at the end of 2007.

Business continuity management is all about the effective management of threats to ensure that critical business activities continue and operational objectives are satisfied.

In times of economic downturn the type and level of threats change and the organisations that will come out the other side stronger will be the ones who fully understand their altered risk environment and control it effectively.

We help management teams understand their organisation's current risk exposures and develop appropriate strategies to ensure that impacts will always remain within predefined acceptable levels during these challenging times. As organisations are under increased pressure, the financial impact may be immediate and obvious as a result of dramatic falls in sales and cashflow or more subtle and progressive as in the knock on effect of key suppliers being affected. 

So whilst most people's perception of business continuity is probably based on some appreciation of IT disaster recovery or the impact of flooding on high street businesses, many will not realise that supply chain continuity, for example, has emerged as a key component of any business continuity management programme in the last few years.

If you are called out in the middle of the night to find your only building burning to the ground, could you move staff to a suitable alternative location, communicate effectively with stakeholders, recover essential IT and data and identify key activities and operations that need to be continued? Would your customers remain loyal? Or would they move to a competitor if you were unable to maintain an appropriate level of service?

ACCA Scotland will feature business continuity awareness within the CPD programme in the second half of 2009. Key threats in the SME sector will be addressed: e.g. data protection, criticality of key individuals, financial threats linked with recession, resilience of service provision.

For many, a single location, restricted cashflow, dependency on a few key people and intense competition mean that a disruption could easily turn into a catastrophe if not managed effectively. Whilst appropriate insurance can provide part of the solution, it does not protect reputation or prevent loss of market share.

In essence, business continuity planning ensures that your organisation can continue to undertake its critical activities following a significant disruption. If you want to find out more about business continuity, why not attend our events in the Autumn? Further details are available on the ACCA Scotland website.

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