Research shows that SMEs are not as BC ready as they believe

Research carried out by Crises Control and the Continuity Forum has revealed that while almost all SMEs agree business continuity planning is a vital protection for their business a majority are not in fact ready to effectively handle a business disruption incident.

Crises Control, the award-winning mass notification platform teamed up with the Continuity Forum, the leading business continuity advice and research organisation in the UK, to research the SME market. The research was carried out using a mixture of in depth phone calls and an online survey.

98% of SMEs that were survey agreed that BC planning is a vital protection for their business, with a mere 2% saying that they didn’t see the need for it. However, only 88% actually had some form of BC planning in place, with another 6% saying that it was important but not urgent and 4% saying that they did have the time or resources for it right now.

More disturbing than this was the revelation that 44% of those who did have BC planning in place had never tested. This means that just less than half of SMEs surveyed had a tested BC plan in place. With no proper testing of their BC plans, businesses are not regarded as BC ready and are exposing themselves to failure of their plans during a real business disruption event.

SMEs did see the importance of communication and all respondents had some form of communications channel in place they could use during a business disruption event that left them without power, telecoms or access to their building. However, some of these were not appropriate or effective for the modern business. 46% still use phone call trees, which is a very inefficient method of communication compared to modern tools such as automated or conference phone calls.

28% of SMEs use WhatsApp, which is great for talking to friends or even work colleagues about low-level non-critical issues, but which lacks the enterprise class security and administrative functionality necessary for critical business communications.

What did become clear, especially during the interview research, was that SMEs recognised they were not BC ready and were desperate for guidance on BC planning best practice. They were also very keen on the opportunity to share experiences with their peers and learn from each other about how to improve the resilience of the business in which they had invested everything.

In response to the results of the survey Crises Control, in partnership with the Continuity Forum, have decided to launch a series of free online and face-to-face workshops. These workshops will be aimed at providing the SME business community with the opportunity to network with each other, and with BC experts, to help them with their business resilience planning.

Commenting on the research findings Shalen Sehgal, Managing Director of Crises Control, said:

"SME business owners have invested everything in their business, and the loss of that business would be devastating to them. But many of them are risking just such an eventuality because they have not managed to find the time and money to put in place best practice BC planning.

"Here at Crisis Control we recognise that there is a cost to BC planning tools or consultancy and we want to help small business owners who cannot afford this to improve their resilience and protect the business that means so much to them. This free workshop series is our response to that problem."

Russell Price, Chairman of the Continuity Forum, said:

"SME businesses are the backbone of the UK economy, providing the fabric of our society and much of the supply chain of the corporate sector. Owners have invested a lot to build their business, and not having a plan to cope when things go wrong could cost them very dearly.

"However, many overestimate the costs and time it takes to develop planning that can help weather disruption from key threats. With the right kind of support, good BCM can be implemented extremely cost effectively and far more easily managed by the firm than many realise.

"By adopting good practice and ensuring you have good communication with customers, SME's can compete more effectively and mitigate the costs of disruption events.

"I have spoken with thousands of small businesses about events that have crippled their firms. For those for whom it has been traumatic, the common theme is a lack of preparation. Of those who had invested a little time and money putting in place appropriate Business Continuity measures, none regretted this investment."

Crises Control and the Continuity Forum will be publishing details of the free workshop series in the next few weeks at www.crises-control.com and www.continuityforum.org.

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