Watts Sector

Safeguarding your assets

The August riots have once again brought the importance of contingency planning into sharp focus for the business community.

Retailers were hardest hit by the criminal behaviour of looters and arsonists, but those with a disaster plan in place are likely to return to normal trading sooner than those without one. Business Continuity Management (BCM) is planning to ensure your organisation has a relatively quick and painless return to ‘business as usual’ in the event of a major disruption.

Events such as those in London and other major cities at the beginning of the month are thankfully rare but the Government’s London Prepared website quotes these reasons why businesses should have a plan in place:

  • 80% of businesses affected by a major incident close within 18 months
  • 90% of businesses that lose data from a disaster are forced to shut within two years

The Business Continuity Institute maintains a register of members who provide business continuity management services to external clients. The register lists members and their areas of expertise against the Institute’s ten certification standards. The BCI’s website also provides answers to a range of frequently asked questions and has links to providers of books and videos on the subject of continuity planning and management. London Prepared also has a useful section on its website offering advice on contingency planning to SMEs. A ten-minute assessment of issues that should be considered in any business continuity plan can be downloaded and a plan put together using the five-step guide provided.

So if you don’t already have a plan, now is the time to start putting one together. For those affected by the riots this may feel like too little too late. No one can prevent a disaster recurring but with a little time and effort, all companies can minimise the long-term impact on their business assets of unforeseen events.

Here are some actions that business owners can take to help themselves (source: the Metropolitan Police):

  • Where possible, retail premises should be suitably staffed with security guards
  • Identify areas that are vulnerable to forced entry
  • Make sure all service doors are kept locked and secure when not in use
  • Ensure your CCTV system is fully operational
  • Make sure key holders’ contact details are kept up-to-date
  • Consider removing high value goods from windows overnight
  • Consider keeping as little cash as possible on the premises
  • Ensure your premises are secure and alarm systems are fully operational

For more information, contact Mark Few, Director at Watts Group, on 020 7280 8000 or go to www.thebci.org and www.londonprepared.gov.uk

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The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.

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