Lists, kits, packs… they often exhibit order and completeness, two dimensions that are also important for effective business continuity. They are also the underlying principles of the ‘battle box’, a repository for vital information to allow an organisation to carry on operating in adverse conditions. Just like first aid kits and motorists’ emergency packs, a battle box should focus on the essentials. It should also be accessible and ‘grabable’ so that it can be made readily available to those responding to an incident. However, there’s more a viable battle box than just ticking off items to be put in it.
First, you need to know what you should include. A sample battle box list drawn up by local government (Staffordshire) in the UK divides items into two categories: documents and equipment. Documents cover crucial information like the business continuity plan itself, employee contact details, customer and supplier details, insurance, financial and banking information, utility company and local authority contact information, and a building site plan. They also include latest stock and equipment inventories, engineering plans and drawings, and formulas and trade secrets. Equipment covers backup storage media, spare keys and security codes, a wind-up torch and a disposable camera. The British Medical Association takes a similar stance, also including fully charged walkie talkies.
Next, you have to keep everything operational and within its sell-by date. Keeping batteries charged is perhaps obvious, but information too can rapidly go stale or even missing. Printed documents need to be checked regularly (for instance, annually or twice annually) and USB sticks and backup disks must also be checked to ensure that the data they hold are up to date – and still properly recorded. More than this, the existence of an effective battle box and the planning needed drive home a message about the importance of business continuity – making it a relatively inexpensive ‘icon’ with a potentially much bigger effect.