How Long Should Your BIA Interview Take to Complete?

Michael Herrera

We have all been involved in long, drawn out BIA interviews that put everybody to sleep and / or make everyone cranky.  At MHA, we have worked to develop a process that is the least invasive, achieves our objectives and takes the least amount of time to get the information our clients require to have a BIA that is consistent with industry best practices and standards.  Our BIA interview process requires the business unit to spend 1 to 1.5 hours on pre-work and 2.5 hours in the BIA interview.  A total of 4 hours or less is all that is required from each business unit to complete a comprehensive BIA.  What keeps others from getting it done this way is simple, the process is made too difficult, lengthy and hard to understand.

  • Create a questionnaire using MS Excel that can be easily manipulated, exported and does calculations.  Our tool evaluates the responses and calculates RTOs and RPOs.
  • Weight your dollar and non-dollar  impact categories in order of priority to the organization to ensure business units cannot skew the prioritization.
  • Only ask the minimum questions in your BIA questionnaire that you need such as department information, processes, computer systems, legal/regulatory, dependencies and vital records.  Remember this is not the recovery plan!
  • Ask the business units to complete 1 page pre-work information for you such as department information, peak times, business processes and computer systems.
  • Pre-load completed pre-work into your questionnaire.  This will greatly speed up the process.
  • Use two people to complete the interview; one to facilitate and one to take the information from the interview.
  • If you are not good at facilitating, find someone who is good at it.
  • Create a script for the interview
  • Don’t let the interviewees stray into minutia; you will lose focus and time.

After hundreds of these interviews, its now a repeatable process that can used at any type of client.  Remember, the BIA is designed to determine criticality and feed information to the recovery strategy phase; its not designed to collect all of  the data for the recovery plan.  What you want interviewees to say at that end is, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was and I learned alot!’.

About MHA: MHA Consulting, with its decade-long track record, is a proven leader in business continuity planning, disaster recovery planning, IT best practices and data center moves and relocations. Every day, MHA helps protect trillions of dollars of global-market assets and top companies around the world rely on MHA services for the continuity of their business. For more information on MHA, contact Michael Herrera at herrera at mha-it dot com or visit

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