Survey finds SMBs ill-prepared for disaster

A new survey measuring just how prepared UK small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) are when it comes to dealing with serious disruption has revealed a lack of disaster recovery or business continuity planning.

Based on interviews conducted by YouGov with 1,126 UK SMB owners and managers, the survey discovered 40 per cent would suffer total or severe impairment to business operations in the event of computer hardware failure.

Even more SMBs (45 per cent) would suffer total or severe impairment to business operations following a power cut or a flood and only 10 per cent said they would be able to function as normal in the event of a fire.

Despite the fact large numbers of those questioned were ill equipped to deal with IT failures or disasters, like flood, fire or terrorist attack that were beyond their control, the research also found equally high levels of ignorance around recovery and continuity industry standards.

Less than 10 per cent had heard of BS 25999, the first British standard for Business Continuity Management, launched in October 2007. Developed by certification body the British Standards Institute (BSI), BS 25999 defines key business continuity processes and lays down guidelines for the development, testing and analysis of business continuity plans.

On being told about the standard, nearly 30 per cent of SMB managers said that they would now plan to achieve certification.

"Companies cannot afford to be out of action for any extended period of time as they risk losing customers in the short term and damaging their reputation in the longer term," said Stephen Rankin, regional director of trade organisation, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

"This survey highlights the fact that some businesses have a long way to go in getting their plans up to scratch."

Chris Harman, IT director of SMB, Newhall Publications said: "We realised some time ago that we simply could not afford any downtime within our business. Putting a business continuity plan in place has allowed us to better understand the information flow within our business and identify weaknesses and critical business functions that need to be protected."

Keith Tilley, managing director of the research sponsor, SunGard Availability Services UK added: "Small business managers admit to feeling pressure from customers to show their resilience. Yet they are doing very little to protect their own business from this type of switching."

In response to the research, SunGard is launching new SMB-targeted business continuity consultancy and training services, branded SafetyNet 24/7.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.