BC/DR planning: not just the IT department’s responsibility

Posted by Chris Fydler on 23/10/15 09:49

It is the IT manager’s job to provide the technology to enable the business to run (or after a disruption, resume), but this requires planning, regardless of how simple or complex your IT environment is. The problem is, many business continuity and disaster recovery plans are either abandoned or never get started at all. BC/DR planning is often an afterthought for senior executives, and many consider it to be the IT department’s responsibility. How do IT managers place business continuity and disaster recovery on the agenda of executive management? By speaking their language. You need to demonstrate the implications on business processes should something go wrong. That’s where the Business Impact Analysis comes in [download our new eBook on this topic].

So much more than technology

Believing BC/DR planning is an IT-only issue is how you end up with great backups with no one or no place to work with them. While technology is critical to the execution of BC/DR regimes, planning must focus on business processes and risk management, and is therefore an operational part of all offices, departments and every employee.

This is just as much a lesson for business leaders as it is for IT managers themselves. As an IT manager, you certainly understand the importance of various IT systems, but you may not be fully aware of the critical business functions performed in your organisation (or think you need to be). Even if your role is limited to managing the IT elements of your organisation’s BC/DR plan, it’s important that you understand the core business processes for two reasons:

  • Understanding the critical business functions is important to determine how to recover IT systems in the event of a significant business disruption. For example, you might think that System A is most critical based on a number of assumptions. However, through this process, you might find that System B or C is really what keeps the company up and running on a day-to-day basis or that without System D, System A doesn't really matter.
  • If you have any aspirations to move up the corporate ladder toward the CIO job, your understanding of the overall business will certainly help you achieve those goals. Today’s CIO is required to be more strategic and business-focused, so understanding the critical business functions in your organisation will set you on the right path.

 A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is the process of figuring out which processes are critical to the organisation’s ongoing success, and understanding the impact of disruption to those processes. From an IT perspective, the goal is to understand the critical business functions and tie those to specific IT systems. Would it make sense for your IT department to spend three days trying to recover System D if System A is still out of commission? Until you perform the BIA, there’s no way you can know.

A united front

It’s critical to note that neither element can be ignored, and physical, IT and human resources plans cannot be developed in isolation from each other. At its heart, BC/DR is about constant communication. Business and IT leaders should work together to determine what kind of plan is necessary and which systems and business units are most crucial to the company. Together, they should decide which people are responsible for declaring a disruptive event and mitigating its effects. 

To learn more about the Business Impact Analysis and how to conduct a workshop of your own, download our eBook by clicking below:

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Topics: IT Manager

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