Top 5 Reasons Why Most BIAs Are DOA

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Do you know the main reasons that most Business Impact Analyses today are “Dead On Arrival”?  

I’ll tell you about bad BIAs in a moment.

Before I do, however, I’d like to share two pieces of background information.

 

WHY IT MATTERS

First, I want to remind you what a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is and why it’s important.

The Business Impact Analysis, you’ll recall, is when you as a member of the business continuity management (BCM) team reach out to the various units at your organization. Specifically, you conduct interviews and get them to fill in questionnaires about their operations. The object is to obtain information about the criticality of their various processes and responsibilities. This information is then used to develop recovery strategies and plans for the organization overall.

The BIA is one of the key parts of a sound BCM program. It’s one of the organization’s main risk mitigation controls (i.e., risk reducers). It’s a foundation for everything that follows. The BIA is also one of the most visible activities the BCM team performs. It brings your team into close contact with other departments and affects what the organization thinks of you and your program.

In short, the BIA is critical for you, your program, and your organization.

But you knew all of that already.

Now here’s the other bit of background information—and this is probably something you don’t know.

 

A DISTURBING NEW TREND

Most BIAs today are a mess. I don’t know what’s behind it, but it’s a definite and disturbing new trend.

For myself and the other consultants at MHA and BCMMETRICS, 2018, in particular, has been a year of seeing bad BIA hiccups and failures across organizations of all sizes, types, and industries.

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 5 Reasons Why Most Bad BIAs Are DOA:

1. Lack of a solid understanding of the BIA process, methodology, and organization.

The fact is, in many cases BCM practitioners do not have a sound understanding of how a BIA works. Many also lack knowledge of their company. Did you know that every time you say “I don’t know” when someone asks why you’re doing something, it undermines your credibility? Gaps in your knowledge also make it harder for you to ask the right questions. Many BCM practitioners don’t understand the difference between a “process” and a “task.” (Tasks are everyday activities such as answering the phones and responding to emails; tasks are performed in the course of carrying out processes.) If you don’t have a solid understanding of what it takes to accomplish a real-world BIA, ask your colleagues or bring in a solid consultant to help you figure it out.

2. Lack of proper upfront planning.

According to business consultant Brian Tracy, every minute we spend in planning a project saves us 10 minutes in execution. Unfortunately, we see a lack of planning in BIAs today. Most practitioners are spending little or no time up front in determining the scope, objectives, stakeholders, tools, and other details of their BIAs. It’s important to take time early on to figure out what departments and processes will be in scope for your BIA. Take the time upfront to prioritize your departments and interviews. Know what your processes are before you start (rather than taking time in interviews to figure that out). You should have a solid understanding of these matters BEFORE you start communicating with your subject matter experts.

3. Poor communications.

BIA practitioners are responsible for making sure participants and stakeholders understand their roles. Too often, we drop the ball in this area. As a result, the participants and stakeholders often have no clue what is expected of them in the BIA interviews. They don’t know how much time they will have to spend or how much knowledge is required.

4. People believe their BIA tool will save them.

Many BIA practitioners believe that having a BIA tool will make everything come out right in the end. But the tool will not save you! In fact, your tool will be close to worthless if you don’t understand process and methodology. Consider this: If your company bought you an airplane, would that automatically turn you into a pilot? Obviously not, and it’s the same with the BIA tool. You have to know how to use the tool to benefit from its capabilities. You need to know how to collect the information and interpret the results. Moreover, the tool must fit the process and methodology you want in your BIA. And a tool won’t provide those things if you don’t already have them.

5. People don’t know what to do with the data.

BCM practitioners are frequently confused about what to do with their data once they have it. Too often, they are unsure about how to use the data to align with IT, prioritize plan development, support plan building, and so on.

 

THE RIGHT WAY TO BIA

The above list contains a reverse list of things you can do to make your BIAs successful. Do the opposite of the 5 reasons and you’ll be on your way.

Here are a few other tips:

  • Know what you are doing.
  • Make sure your participants clearly understand their role and participate fully.
  • Make sure your BIA process and systems calculate and extract the right data and information. 
  • Don’t try to make the BIA about gathering even more information just because you have people’s attention.

The rise in bad BIAs is an unfortunate trend. But you don’t have to go along with it.

By being aware of the 5 reasons given above, and not falling prey to them, you can help make sure that the BIAs your team produces are not “Dead on Arrival,” but are, instead, quality assessments that are a credit to your program and improve the strength of your organization.

 

FURTHER READING

For more guidance on doing BIAs, see the following recent blog posts from BCMMETRICS:

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