Organisations have failed to improve their business continuity planning despite events such as the London bombings and the Buncefield oil terminal fire.
The proportion of organisations with business continuity plans covering critical operations has remained static over the past 12 months at 49%, research by the Chartered Management Institute and the Cabinet Office found.
And the proportion of companies that test their plans has fallen, with only 37% rehearsing their plans at least once a year, down from 52% in 2005.
“There appears to be a mismatch between perception of the need for business continuity and the reality,” said Jo Causon, director at the CMI.
The findings, from a survey of 1,500 managers, come despite 10% of firms admitting that they had faced significant disruption from the London bombings, 3% from the Buncefield oil explosion and 2% from the Asian tsunami.
Nearly 40% of businesses experienced disruption from IT systems failing, 29% from loss of key people, and 24% from loss of telecoms links during the past year.
Firms were particularly poor at ensuring key suppliers had continuity plans, the survey found.
Although more than 60% required statements of compliance from their suppliers, only 37% examined suppliers’ plans, and 17% involved suppliers in their business continuity plan rehearsals.
Managers also expressed concern at the lack of planning in their firms for a potential influenza pandemic. More than 90% thought that a bird flu pandemic would result in moderate or severe disruption to their business. But 43% said their firms had no plans in place to deal with an outbreak.