UK businesses not prepared for the unexpected

Organisations are not doing enough to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster or IT failure, a new report has warned

UK organisations are still not doing enough to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster or IT failure, a new report has warned — despite fears over online attacks and disease.

According to a report by the Chartered Management Institute and Cabinet Office, fewer than half (38 percent) of survey respondents said their organisation has plans in place to cope with business disruption.

The report found the two greatest concerns for organisations are electronic attack (identified by 58 percent) and human disease such as a flu pandemic (57 percent). However, more than half (53 percent) of respondents said their organisations still have no plans in place to help them cope during a pandemic.

UK managers in the IT sector are most worried about electronic attacks; followed by human disease knocking out the workforce; the impact of severe weather; and destruction of critical infrastructure, respectively.

However, less than a third (30 percent) of organisations have plans in place to cater for IT loss; only 17 percent are prepared to cope with enforced absence of staff, and just 16 percent are ready for severe weather.

The report found the loss of IT was the most commonly reported disruption in the 12 months to January 2009 — with 40 percent of respondents saying IT issues had disrupted business. Other key sources of disruption were extreme weather, loss of staff, loss of telecommunications and utility outages.

While the number of organisations with specific business continuity plans has increased slightly — 52 percent this year, compared to 47 percent a year ago — the report also found a third of organisations do not test their continuity plans at all, a figure that has remained largely unchanged for a decade.

In addition, the percentage of managers reporting that continuity is regarded as important in their organisation has fallen by 12 percentage points over the past year — from 76 percent to 64 percent.


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