As many of you can probably relate my first experience with Business Continuity was a sink or swim situation. Right out of college I joined a company that was providing COOP (Continuity of Operations Planning) consulting for a state government. My immediate responsibilities were to quickly learn the ins and outs of Business Continuity and COOP planning before going onsite to work with another consultant to conduct formal Business Impact Analysis for key state departments. At this time (2003) it was very common for a BIA to be a long drawn out process taking months and months to complete face to face interviews and to document the findings. Although the information being collected was invaluable there were some keys flaws I quickly found with this process.
- The information provided was not always accurate and many times required additional follow-ups and interviews to confirm the details, delaying the overall BIA report back to Senior Management.
- The combination of employees believing their department and functions/processes were always the most critical and the pressure of the face to face interview meant that the function/process ratings were typically identified as critical/mission essential from the interviewee.
- The information we spent so much time capturing was some times out of date and had changed by the time we were presenting the final BIA report to Senior Management.
Immediately following my consulting work with the State I was tasked to take the lead on implementing planning software for large companies with a focus on how to help automate the BIA and planning process. Thinking about the pros and cons I learned during my first BIA experience I began implementing shorter more concise BIA questionnaires in the planning software, with clear help text to make it easy for users to go in unassisted and provide the information needed on a more frequent basis. I also worked closely with clients to implement weighted questions and dynamic BIA approvals to ensure there were checks and balances in place forcing users to spend more time considering the actual criticality of their function/process instead of always identifying it as the most critical.
In a world where time and resources are limited and potential threats and risks are always looming companies now more than ever need up to date clear concise data they can use on the fly and access from anywhere. Although having more information is nice what good is it if the information is old and not reliable?
To learn more about how BC in the Cloud can help automate your BIA and planning process go to www.bcinthecloud.com.