Business continuity and disaster recovery planning accounts for 35% of the IT costs of the core business of Voca, the UK clearing house that processes the nation’s direct debits.
To test the robustness of its business continuity plans, Voca runs its main business from one of its back-up sites for up to five weeks a year to ensure it can provide a seamless service should a disaster happen.
Chris Dunne, commercial business manager at Voca (formerly known as Bacs), revealed the high cost of its business continuity planning arrangements as the clearing house called for a new effort from UK businesses to share information and best practice in business continuity planning.
Voca has increased its business continuity investment since the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, but it was unable to say by how much.
The clearing house now operates two back-up sites - one for processing transactions, and the other for staff running other parts of the business, such as marketing and strategy.
Voca’s call to share best practice comes amid growing pressure from business groups for government action to help businesses prepare for the risks of terrorism and cybercrime.
Last November, employers’ group the Confederation of British Industry said businesses needed better information and government support to help them manage the potential risks.
Research by the CBI and security firm Qinetiq revealed that, despite overhauling their business continuity plans, 60% of companies have concerns about whether they are prepared to cope with a disaster.
The Business Continuity Group, an international organisation whose members include most FTSE 100 companies, told Computer Weekly that it is lobbying governments to win their support for an international business continuity day during March 2006.
The group said this would allow business, governments, utilities and other key parts of the national infrastructure to test how organisations’ business continuity arrangements would dovetail together in a major crisis.
Dunne said, "This would be a logical step, given our current work in virtual contingency trials with other members of the UK financial services industry."