Companies are paying lip service to business continuity planning but are not making resilience a reality, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has warned.

The CMI's 2007 Business Continuity Management Survey of more than 1,200 public and private sector managers found that 73% believed business continuity was seen as important by their senior management team – but more than half said they worked for organisations where there was no specific business continuity plan in place.

Even where plans existed, many organisations failed to balance levels of protection with the key threats to their business, the research supported by the Continuity Forum and the Cabinet Office, found. Only 35% of business continuity plans focused on reputation, although nearly half those surveyed said "damage to brand" was a major threat.

The lack of readiness among companies contrasts with the reality they face, with increasing reports of business continuity problems. Nearly four in 10 organisations had experienced disruption due to loss of IT during the past year, while 32% had been disrupted by loss of staff.

The research also found that 28% had been hit by extreme weather conditions in the 12 months to January 2007 – up from just 9% the previous year.

CMI marketing and corporate affairs director Jo Causon said: "Protecting an organisation's infrastructure is, of course, vital to its sustainability.

"However, technology is nothing without the people who can use it and unless organisations balance the need to safeguard buildings with the need to secure their workforce, any attempt at business continuity management will remain unfinished and inadequate."

The research also highlighted the fact that most organisations failed to build disaster recovery and continuity into relations with suppliers. Just 22% of those surveyed said they demanded business continuity management from all their business-critical suppliers.