Continuity planning

A continuity plan will help you when the unexpected happens

A continuity plan means you can keep the county running  in unforeseen circumstances

A continuity plan should contain all the information that your county team needs to keep running the county when something unexpected happen, even if you are unavailable.

Work with your team to develop this plan. You can delegate the job of taking the continuity plan forward. But, the county commissioner remains responsible for the county continuing in unusual or unpredicted circumstances.

All key team members should be able to access a copy of the plan. An online file sharing service is a great way to make sure everyone who needs to can view the latest version of the plan at any time. 

You should review your plan regularly, making sure that it remains relevant to the needs of the county. We recommend that one team member is responsible for updating the plan. The rest of the team should be involved in making decisions about updates and changes. Add the date that changes were made to your plan, so it's clear which is the most up-to-date version.

Creating a continuity plan

Before starting your continuity plan, you'll need to do an impact analysis and a risk assessment for your area. This will determine the likely risks and how long things can continue without key services. 

Read our advice for commissioners on impact analysis and risk assessments.

Then follow these steps to create your plan:

  • Plan how long it you think it should take for each service to be recovered after an incident or disruption. Use the information in your impact analysis that explains the effects of the services being unavailable to help you decide how long you can be without it.
  • List the everything you'd need to bring back or recover a service. 
  • Consider your county team, including the roles currently held, any other areas of expertise in the team, when roles are due to end and whereabouts the roles are based.

It's important to also include:

  • The purpose of the plan in the document
  • Any other relevant documents, like your county’s constitution. This could be as links or attached copies.
  • The name of the person responsible for the document.
  • All members of the team with responsibilities within the continuity plan and explain what their roles are.
  • How the plan will be carried out, will you contact everyone through a phone tree, for example?
  • Whether key team members have the right GO access to contact people. If not, identify how this would be done.
  • How guiding members across the county will be contacted and kept up-to-date.

It's a good idea to test your plan before you need to use it in a real situation. It's rarely possible to test everything included in the plan, but you should try out the contact and communication plans to  make sure that your continuity plan will be effective it should be tested in advance. It will not be possible to test all parts of the plan, but try out the communication strategy to make sure that all members of the team can be contacted.

Other scenarios can be tested through discussion, where each member of the team describes what their actions would be. Make sure that scenarios are relevant to your county; your risk assessment can help with this.

Make sure you review your continuity plan regularly, to check that:

  • All members have kept their contact details up to date on GO
  • People listed in the plan are still members of the team and still able to do what they need to do
  • New risks to the county have been included
  • All members of the team know about the plan and how to use it