Driving Recovery Strategies with a Business Impact Assessment

By Melissa Ouari  |  March 31, 2020

In the business continuity and disaster recovery sector, a Business Impact Assessment (BIA) is a critical tool to develop the recovery strategies that will ultimately drive an organization’s business continuity plan. It addresses the “what if” questions an organization is challenged with, based upon the most likely threats and risks. A BIA is the first step to take if your organization wants to understand the impacts of disruption due to the unavailability of people, business processes ̶ which includes the use of business partners ̶ and technology. It will help your organization understand the business requirements for recovery based upon the levels of priority and the associated business criticality of functions. It also helps business leaders understand the maximum time key business process cannot be performed before there are financial or operational consequences.

If your organization never completed a BIA or it has not addressed pandemic-specific scenarios, now is not too late. A senior management team can conduct a high-level “impact tolerance” exercise to drive the recovery strategies necessary to address people, process and technology so that your organization can continue to support those business areas deemed most critical. There are many elements of a traditional BIA, but one important goal is to determine minimum operating requirements that will provide your organization with the resources it would need immediately and overtime to resume business operations should the organization be faced with business disruption.

Where does pandemic planning fall into this? Some traditional assumptions and strategy options for your personnel may not be viable in a pandemic scenario. Organizations now conducting a BIA to address pandemic-specific scenarios should have a more concentrated focus on assessing the impact of reduced or unavailable resources, such as employees. Think about:

  • Are there opportunities for cross-training employees to help facilitate business functions if key personnel were not available?
  • How would workflow be impacted without key employees?
  • What if a significant portion of the workforce is unavailable?

When conducting a BIA in a pandemic scenario, your organization should also consider the scale (widespread outages/impact), the swiftness of the pandemic spread, the fact that it is difficult to predict the length of the pandemic and infrastructure concerns. We cannot predict what business disruptions we may be challenged with. However, you can prepare your organization by understanding the critical functions and defining strategies based on BIA so that your business can continue even under worst-case scenarios.

For more information on performing a Business Impact Assessment, contact Melissa Ouari, Senior Manager, Technology Services.

For more resources related to the COVID-19 crisis, visit Marks Paneth’s Pandemic Resource Center.

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About Melissa Ouari

Melissa Ouari, CISA, CBCP, is a Senior Manager in the Technology Services Group at Marks Paneth. To this role, she brings more than 20 years of experience in accounting and information technology. Working with clients in an array of industries, Ms. Ouari specializes in IT risk assessment and management as well as IT audits and application level reviews. She is a Certified Information System Auditor (CISA) and Certified Business Continuity Planner (CBCP) and has led numerous... READ MORE +


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