We write a lot about BIAs in our blog and ebooks, and no wonder: the business impact analysis is the cornerstone of a sound business continuity program. In today’s post, we list, link to, and describe MHA’s best BIA resources.
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Why the BIA Is Important
The business impact analysis or BIA is one of the topics Richard Long and I write about the most here on “Roadmap to Resiliency.” It’s also the topic people search for the most when they visit our website.
This high level of interest in BIAs is completely warranted since the BIA is the lynchpin of a good business continuity management (BCM) program and hence of a resilient organization.
As a reminder, the BIA is a study that organizations carry out to figure out which of their departments, business processes, and systems are the most critically time sensitive. It helps them prioritize which of their processes and systems they should protect the most and restore the fastest in order to minimize the impact of an outage on the organization.
Comparing the value of different business processes and departments is like comparing apples to oranges (also, pears, grapes, pineapples, and bananas). At first glance, such comparisons are difficult if not impossible. Which would cause the greatest impact if it was down for six hours: Manufacturing? IT? Customer Service? Communications? The web site? Shipping? Sales? Payroll? Finance? HR? . . . Which processes, departments, or systems can the company least afford to do without? . . . Many people are glad to guess the answers to these questions. . . . Often, people guess and are wrong.
The great virtue of the BIA is that its methodology (e.g., prompting management to choose the most appropriate quantitative and qualitative impact categories, weighting those impact categories, etc.) provides a rational basis for making the kinds of comparisons discussed above.
The BIA helps the organization understand which processes would cause the most harm if they were down for an extended period. This information lets a company come up with recovery strategies and plans that are rationally focused on protecting and restoring the processes most critically time sensitive to the organization’s well-being.
The BIA is the difference between a BCM program that amounts to a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey versus one that is like a biathlete taking careful aim at a target with a known high value.
The discussion above sums up why we have written so much about BIAs. Let’s get on with listing, linking to, and previewing the best resources MHA has produced on this critical topic.
We invite you to use any or all of these free resources to help you in understanding and conducting BIAs (or in working with a consulting firm to do so).
Your BIA Action Guide. A great place to start. This is a 48-page ebook written by myself and MHA Senior Advisory Consultant Richard Long containing 14 chapters covering all aspects of the BIA, from doing the prework and selecting impact categories to writing the final BIA report and presenting to management. As the introduction puts it, “The guide you are now looking at collects the best of our BIA-themed blog posts, updating and expanding them to form an overarching depiction of the modern BIA, as conducted by MHA Consulting.” Free download with registration.
The following BIA-related blog posts were written either by me or Richard Long:
Why You Should Schedule BIAs the Same Way You Do Dentist Appointments. “The goal is to make the conducting of BIAs, and the schedule on which you conduct them, part of the culture of your organization.”
The Human Side of Conducting BIAs. “People tend to think doing a BIA is all about the questionnaire. The fact is, conducting a BIA is mostly about working effectively with the people providing the information for it. . . . Understanding the human side of the business impact analysis is critical to its success.”
The Secret to a Successful BIA Interview: Get Their Information Ahead of Time. “After we started gathering [each department’s] information ahead of time [on questionnaires], the following good things happened: Our interviews got shorter by around 45 minutes, the effort required to accomplish the goals of the interview was reduced, the interview experience became less irritating for the participants, and the quality of the information we received went way up.”
BIA Interviews: 5 Tips for Streamlining the BIA. “In today’s world, the entire BIA process better take from 3.5 to 4 hours or less for each business unit, from pre-work to final approval. . . . Needless to say, even as you are speeding things up, you’re still expected to cover all the bases, doing as good or better a job as you did before. . . . Nobody said it was going to be easy! But hopefully the tips below will make it easier for you.”
Preparing for a BIA – It Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated. “Here, we’ll outline the prep work required to conduct a solid BIA; one that is worth your while and creates tangible results.”
BIA Blunders: 6 Common Mistakes Organizations Make When Conducting BIAs. “The following are six mistakes that I and my team commonly see organizations make when conducting BIAs.”
Top 5 Reasons Why Most BIAs Are DOA. “Most BIAs today are a mess. . . . We don’t know the reasons for the trend. But we do have a good grasp of where organizations are getting off track. Here are our top five reasons why most BIAs are DOA.”
BIA Tips and Traps: 4 Things To Do — and 3 Things Not To Do — To Ensure Your BIA Is a Success. “Today’s post is in response to the strong, persistent interest we see in advice on how to conduct a business impact analysis. In it, I’m going to share my 7 BIA Tips and Traps. These are some of the things I’ve learned to do and to avoid doing over the course of my 19 years in the field—19 years during which I’ve conducted thousands of BIAs.”
The Big Decision: Choosing What Software to Use for Your BIAs. “In today’s post we’ll look at the main software options available for doing BIAs, discuss which work best for which types of organizations, and share some tips that can help you succeed no matter what approach you take to using software.”
5 Tips to Help You Identify the Right Impact Categories for Your BIA. “There is no universal list of impact categories that works in all industries. Rather, every organization chooses a few such categories based on its unique situation.”
How to Weight Your BIA Impact Categories. “The reason you want to weight your impact categories is because you cannot restore everything first. You can only restore one or two things first; the rest have to wait until you can get to them. Therefore, reason suggests you should choose to restore first the functions whose interruption is causing you the most damage.”
All About RTOs: What They Are and Why You Have To Get Them Right. “The BIA is a waste of time if the organization neglects to use the results to correctly define and establish Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs).”
What Goes Into A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) Report? Lists the essential elements of a BIA report. “Conforming to the expectations of your organization and industry increases the likelihood that your information will be received as relevant and authoritative. . . . Matching your style of delivery to the preferences of senior management is key to presenting your results in the best possible light.”
A Business Impact Analysis Checklist For Continuity Managers. “Use the following example as a guide for conducting a well-organized and thorough BIA. Transfer the steps to a blank document as a kind of Business Impact Analysis template, or simply use them as a reference—whatever works for you.”
Like Lambs to the Slaughter: When BIA Beginners Present to Management. “For anyone who thinks the hard part about doing BIAs is getting the departments to cooperate, think again. I think that getting management to go along with your findings—and sign off on them so you can begin implementing them—is much harder.”
Lastly, I’d like to include a couple of links to information about BIA On-Demand, MHA Consulting’s proprietary software tool for conducting BIAs. (It’s also the tool we use in doing BIAs with our clients.)
BIA On-Demand. This link is to the product-information page on our site describing BIA On-Demand and providing a link to request a demonstration. BIA On-Demand is a secure, cloud-based tool for conducting a complete Business Impact Analysis. It lets users conduct standardized BIAs aligned with BCM standards such as FFIEC, BCI Good Practices, NFPA 1600, and ISO 22301 using a cost-effective, centralized, and structured repository.
Business Impact Analysis Example: A Sample Assessment In BCMMETRICS. Blog post describing the BIA On-Demand workflow and showing sample screenshots from the tool.
A Strong Belief in the Value of the BIA
The business impact analysis is essential to a sound business continuity program. BIAs help organizations identify their most critically time sensitive processes and systems, enabling them to develop strategies and plans that protect them where they need it most.
MHA’s strong belief in the value of the BIA is reflected in the large number of blog posts and other resources we have produced about them. We hope you find some of these resources helpful as you set about conducting BIAs at your organization.
For more information on BIAs and other hot topics in BCM and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from MHA Consulting: