Ditch the Data Silos: Improve Your Resiliency with Integrated Information

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A hidden weakness in many organizations is that business continuity data is kept in different places, which causes confusion and can hinder access during an emergency.

In today’s post, we’ll take a look at some of the issues surrounding these so-called data silos, including the problems they cause and the benefits of eliminating them.

Related on BCMMETRICS: Once Upon a Time: Organize Your BC Data So It Tells a Story

Many organizations of all sizes function in silos, where each business unit has its own set of compliance regulations, vendors, and processes. 

This makes sense for many functions, but there is one area where it causes significant problems: business continuity (BC) and IT/disaster recovery.

This is due to the unique nature of BC and IT/DR data and the situations in which you need to access it. 

LIKE AN EMERGENCY ESCAPE LADDER

We create BC and IT/DR information, such as BIAs, recovery plans, crisis communication plans, emergency contact lists, and so on, to give us directions for what to do in an emergency.

Think of this BC data as being similar to the emergency escape ladders people sometimes buy if they have a home with multiple stories. 

If you have one of these ladders and the smoke alarm goes off, and assuming you can’t get out the regular way, you hook the ladder over the window sill, roll it down the outside of the house, then climb down to safety. 

But imagine if, instead of keeping the ladder ready to go near the window, you stored it disassembled with the pieces scattered all over the house. And then you have to make an emergency exit. First, you would have to track all the parts down. Then you would need to sit down and put them together. Then you would have to go hunting around some more when it turns out that some critical pieces are missing. To add one more wrinkle, imagine that you’re a guest in the house and haven’t the faintest idea where the various parts might be. All while the house is burning down. Talk about a nightmare scenario.

This is what it’s like when you have an emergency at a business and the critical BC information is scattered among many different data silos, in different business units, under different storage protocols.

INTEGRATION AND ACCESS

To have a good chance of recovering from a business disruption, it is important that you have your BC data integrated into one location.

There also needs to be a global understanding that a large number of people at the organization need to know about this information, know where it is, and have the ability to access it quickly.

It is impossible to know ahead of time who will be on duty when there’s a disruption. If only a few people at the company have access to the information, and those people aren’t available, you essentially have no recovery plan.

FIVE KEY STEPS

So how do you go about eliminating harmful data silos and integrating your BC information? 

Here are five key steps to take:

  1. Get the right parties together and develop a common approach to managing BC data and information. 
  2. Agree on a centralized core secure repository for storing all BC data. This can be a SharePoint or a specialized business continuity management tool such as BCMMETRICS’ BCM One
  3. Determine who can have access and the different levels of access (administrator, read-only, etc.). 
  4. Agree on a schedule for maintaining the data and ensuring you integrate it.
  5. Organize the data in such a way that it is simple for outsiders to tell at a glance what the critical plans and facilities are. Make the data tell a story.

GET IT TOGETHER

It’s only possible to have a problem with siloed BC data if you have such data in the first place, so if that’s your situation, then good on you for that. 

Now, get that information united in one place so that it will help you when it counts. In other words, get it together.

You don’t want to be in the position of the person who had to assemble his emergency-exit ladder during the emergency.

Integrate your BC data, maintain it, organize so it’s easy for an outsider to understand its layout at a glance, and make it widely and easily accessible.

FURTHER READING

For more information on this and other hot topics in business continuity and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting:

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