In todays economy, organizations are faced with so many obstacles that could permanently alter the way they conduct business or remain relevant upon their competition. In addition to keeping up with the latest technology, new trends among their specific business industry, organizations need to have a plan of action in place if an event of any nature interrupts the normal flow of business. Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are two key processes that allow organizations to continue normal business functions in the event of an interruption. When business is disrupted, it can cost an organization a lot of money. Potential lost revenues, in addition to extra expenses, means a reduction in profits. Even though insurance is a smart business investment option, it doesnt cover all costs and cannot replace customers that turn to the competition. Business Continuity Plans are critical to the continuous operation of all types of businesses. Business continuity planning is becoming more important as companies rely heavily on technology to do business. Organizations of all sizes place more emphasis on IT and communications services to support their customer communications, business transactions and manage supply chains.
As a result, theyve become less tolerant of information and service loss due to disasters or other business interruptions. In order to create an effective Business Continuity Plan, a Business Impact Analysis should be performed. A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is a tool used by the organizations when developing Business Continuity Plans (BCP). The purpose of a business impact analysis is to collect information in an effort to understand the importance of the different functions of the organization and which ones are critical in maintaining normal business operations. It serves as the foundation for which an effective BCP can be created and implemented. A business impact analysis will identify and quantify business related impacts during a loss, disruption, or interruption of processes within an organization. Having an effective business continuity plan gives an organization the ability to recover its operations under any given circumstance. The data collected in a business impact analysis can be utilized as supporting data to define an appropriate budget for a business continuity budget. Having a Business Continuity plan is a proactive way of avoiding needless downtime due to a disaster, security breach, or human error.
A business operating without a business continuity plan could suffer long-term crippling consequences. Research In Motion is a large organization that knows all too well the negative affects not being properly prepared in the event of sudden business interruption. Research In Motion Limited (RIM), currently known as BlackBerry Limited, is a telecommunication and wireless device company based in Ontario, Canada. The company is best known globally for its development of the BlackBerry brand of smartphones and mobile devices, which is used worldwide by various government agencies. Mike Lazaridis, the companys founder, served as its co-CEO along with Jim Balsillie from its inception until January 2012. Originally a dominant innovative company in the smartphone market for business and government the company has declined tremendously in recent years. Some would argue this decline was due to stronger and more innovative designs of their competitors.
However, in a few instances, their lack of preparation proved to be a factor that pushed them even further behind. In October of 2011, the company suffered a global service disruption that affected millions of its customers worldwide. The initial problem started Monday, October 11th with users in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. It soon spread to South America and Asia the following day, hitting United States and Canada on Wednesday. The three day service outage was attributed to a core switch failure. However, this was the absolute worst time to find out there was also a serious problem with the networks backup system. What was in place wasnt of any use for this particular issue. This incident was completely opposite of what an already struggling company needed. It also reiterates the importance of conducting business impact analysis to create an effective business continuity plan. The outage served a huge blow to the companys reputation. It not only interrupted the normal flow of blackberrys network, it caused an interruption of business or personal normalcy in the lives of every blackberry customer. Critical business functions are vital functions within a specific organization, in which that organization depends on to operate or remain viable.
Identifying key business functions is usually done prior to a business impact analysis. Even though there are several common critical business functions that exist in every organization, regardless of its business industry, there are also a few that are industry specific. One example of a critical business function of a midsize organization would be its Human Resources department. In most companies the human resources department is the go-to department in the event of a disaster or interruption of normal business operations. Human Resources is the informational hub of a company and it is the department best position with providing guidance to company personal in any given situation. Facilities would be another critical business function of a midsize company. Most midsize organizations have several different physical locations. If, for some reason, a facility is not accessible or theres a power outage, several daily business operations could be interrupted. Another example of a critical business function of a midsize organization is their Information Technology infrastructure. In todays world, businesses reply heavily on the IT infrastructure they have in place. Some form of technology is used to conduct business with partners, communicate with customers and complete important financial transactions.
IT supports other critical business functions within an organization. For example, payroll systems, inventory systems, as well as, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, are all vital company applications that all depend on information technology. Due to the fact that other critical business functions may depend upon the operation of another, certain devices should be restored before others. For example, after a disaster the facility itself needs to be inspected and cleared to be occupied. The next logical step would be restoring power to the facility before anything else. The HVAC system and all electronics of any kind will need power to function. Once this is done, it would be best to start recovering important systems, such as the business local area network, which is the base for several business application systems needed to continue normal business operations. In the event of a catastrophic failure within a midsized organization, I would adhere to the below restoration plan.
(a) Contact all BCP/DR team members and schedule an immediate conference call or meeting at an easily accessible location. (b) Review everyones role and quickly go over the recovery plan that will be implemented. (c) Contact the contractor or management company of our backup facility location. Verify that the building is secure, but accessible, and ready for occupancy. (b) Notify IT staff of that location and ensure they have the necessary equipment to continue core business operations within the new location. Ensure that the team member responsible for this area is available and ready to assist with whatever is needed to get the equipment in place and ready. (c) Make sure all necessary funding is available to purchase all necessary supplies for the recovery location (i.e. office supplies, food, etc.)
(d) Keep management, as well as, clients abreast of current recovery status and provide a time phrase of when operations will be up and running. (e) Employee the services of HR to notify employees of the new location, reporting time and any other recovery procedures. (f) Once all pertinent operations have been recovered to the backup location, and employees are in place to support operations, the company can announce that it is fully functioning in a normal business status at the recovery location.