Implementing business strategies to improve efficiency and profitability helps ensure a company's success. Yet, there is always the possibility that something might go wrong. A supplier can go out of business, a natural disaster may affect the production of essential materials, or an unforeseen recession could tank the economy.
Regardless of the potential disruption, businesses need to be prepared. It's important to create a time-sensitive business impact analysis (BIA) that prioritizes the resources and critical processes needed to deliver products and services to customers in the event that a disruption occurs. Here is a complete guide to creating and implementing a BIA.
What is a BIA?
An impact analysis process predicts the effects of a disruption. Information is gathered to provide a disaster recovery plan and minimize the operational impact on the business.
A disruption refers to anything that negatively interrupts the company's day-to-day operations, such as a delayed delivery from a supplier.
A business impact analysis is utilized to prepare for different internal and external disruptions that can potentially affect profitability, productivity, and efficiency levels.
What is the Purpose of a BIA?
The most important reasons for conducting a BIA include-
1. Identifying Essential Activities and Resources
An impact analysis identifies the required business processes needed to ensure a continuity plan. It gives a comprehensive picture of how all of the various departments work together to deliver these essential services.
When conducting this comprehensive analysis, the company may uncover unnoticed resources that can be utilized to mitigate the disruption or risk.
2. Identifying Critical Obligations and Legal Compliance Standards
A BIA helps ensure that all regulatory, and contractual obligations are enforced should a disruption occur.
For example, the COVID pandemic forced businesses to adjust their policies to stay compliant with state and federal health regulations. Only "essential" workers were authorized to work, and social distancing, along with mandatory face coverings were enforced.
3. Clarifying Spending Strategies and Policies
The business impact analysis report correlates disruption to downtime or a period where business activities, equipment, or other workflow processes cannot function.
Downtime affects profitability, as companies need to increase prices to compensate for the losses caused by the disruption. Utilizing a BIA will help adjust spending strategies and mitigate any potential financial losses.
4. Enforcing Data Collection Strategies
Data collection is utilized as a part of a BIA to identify essential business activities and resources needed to deliver critical business functions.
It includes the process of collecting contact information, revenue statistics, or anything else required to maintain operations in case of a disruption.
Consequences of Not Conducting a BIA
The possible results of not performing a BIA include-
Instinct-Based Recovery Plans and an Unorganized Approach
There will be a lack of focus and objectivity in assigning the correct recovery priorities. Without department- priorities, there will be a non-cohesive approach amongst all parties involved. This can lead to confusion as to which priorities should take precedence over one another.
Misalignment Between Management and Employees
Without a BIA process, there will be a gap between management expectation and recovery program performance. Enforcing new plans without approval from management may lead to overspending or under-preparing. This weakens business continuity and the ability to plan and prepare for potential threats.
No Justification to Prepare for a Disruption
If there is no coordination with the leadership team it can be difficult to execute a cohesive continuity initiative. A BIA addresses the needs of management by prioritizing what the continuity requirements are, which solutions are needed, and how much money and resources to invest. Without a business impact analysis, it's almost impossible to address these priorities.
BIA vs. Risk Analysis
A business impact analysis and risk analysis are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have different meanings.
A BIA is focused on identifying requirements, determining continuity management, and estimating the negative impact of downtime. A risk analysis predicts the likelihood of a risk occurring and prioritizes a list of solutions.
Risk management strategies are utilized to look at all of the potential threats that affect a business. A BIA takes a more internal approach by analyzing the required resources and business activities needed to deliver the most important products and services.
How to Create a BIA
Here are the best practices for conducting a business impact analysis-
1. Ensure Correct Resources and Business Activities are in Place
The first step is to answer these questions-
- Why is the business doing an impact analysis?
- What is the business attempting to safeguard?
- How many resources are needed to mitigate a disruption?
- Which stakeholders should be included in creating the BIA?
This step identifies the required resources, systems, and business activities in each department. It focuses on supporting the essential workflow processes to maintain the business when facing a disruption. 2. Schedule BIA Interviews
Schedule an interview with each involved stakeholder to provide information on the purpose of the BIA. The information collected should produce an understanding of-
3. Execute Business Impact Analysis Interviews
- The organization's key resources and priorities
- The daily business activities of each department.
- The resources needed to carry out every business process
Utilize these interviews to determine the necessary steps for completing the most important business activities. Make sure to document the following requirements during the interview-
- Personnel and staff members
- Other interdependent departments
Ask for an explanation of the purpose of each requirement, if there are any available alternatives, and what the recovery time is if the requirement isn't available or breaks down.
For example, ask the head of the manufacturing facility which equipment is most essential, other equipment that can be utilized as a backup, and how long it will take to fix or replace the equipment. 4. Create and Distribute a Report
After each interview, record any of the various findings. The report should include all of the business data
and any recommendations.
Distribute this report to all of the interviewees so they can review it and add any changes or edits. 5. Outline a Summary of the Business Impact Analysis
After the finalized summary is established, summarize the important requirements and threats discussed in the impact analysis interviews.
Utilize the report to make recommendations for any risks or disruptions that were talked about in the meetings. Present this information to senior management and any other involved stakeholders who will be affected by a potential disruption.