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Business Continuity Planning is the one of the four commonly linked components of an organization's risk management strategy. This paper will take a look at Business Continuity Planning from a unique perspective: the end. Business Continuity Planning joins with Emergency Response, Crisis Management and Disaster Recovery Planning [see Figure 1] to create a comprehensive process for recovering from unexpected events that threaten stability or even the future existence of an organization. The root of a sound business continuity plan lies in the ability to quickly and accurately determine the most important business functions. Either of these incorrect extremes can be explained, but can cripple the development of a Business Continuity Plan if it isn't corrected early on in the process. Although not an exact science, typical business functions can be tied to one or more roles they play in defining a predictable operational process, and subsequently, the effect they can have on the business' success when these functions are lost or operating below par. The impact of a loss or delay in completing a business function typically changes over time. Extending the RTO by creating alternate workaround processes or by offering other mitigating factors (e.g. Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) are similar to Recovery Time Objectives except that they represent the tolerance for lost data once the process has been recovered or restored.
Technology has advanced to the point where critical data files can be maintained and synchronized in more than one location, enabling a potential RPO of zero to be achieved.
The risk of loss of critical facilities can be mitigated, but generally at very high costs.
Some Business Continuity Planning projects start by listing every possible scenario, from rainstorms to global thermo-nuclear war. In an overall enterprise strategy, the most common mitigation technique is to identify and prepare alternate sites for all critical elements.
One of the most overlooked aspects of successful Business Continuity Planning is the potential loss of key decision makers during the response and recovery time when their abilities are most crucial.
As a checkpoint in the Business Continuity Plan, select an alternate for each critical staff position, who is asked periodically to perform response and recovery functions in place of the incumbent during planned tests. Interestingly, a good succession planning policy has an added benefit in that it gives employees a clearer way to manage their career advancement, resulting in more favorable employee turnover and improved productivity. Finally, it's not unusual to spend considerably more time planning a Disaster Recovery test that doesn't create an interruption than running the test itself.
Product quality and information privacy regulations make the task of identifying alternate suppliers more challenging.
Purchasing Departments have traditionally been able to identify sources of materials, but will always need additional support in finding alternate suppliers of technical processes and business services.
Remember also that shortages of common resources can affect many companies in the same industry.
Recently, pandemic response planning has taken its place in Business Continuity Planning, both from an employee absence perspective and one that represents a dramatic alteration in public behavior (e.g. Many situations less severe than a widespread disease pandemic can be effectively built into Business Continuity Plans.
Recent experiences with regional disasters such as floods and hurricanes have also resulted in more refined plans to assure that family members and household stability can be assured before employees can be productive. The best Business Continuity Plans are ones that can be initiated very early before the interruption has progressed to the point of a crisis.
Many computer incidents such as failing components, hacking attempts or infection by computer viruses can be recognized by intrusion detection and operations management tools. Many effective techniques exist for building a resilient facility that can provide risk remediation, especially for computer and communications capabilities.
The most effective Business Continuity plans have sound alternative procedures and process recovery instructions included in the project documentation. Technology can be used to effectively create a domain structure that enhances the ability to consolidate resources with similar requirements for Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability. Most business units cannot justify the expense associated with providing a continuous availability strategy, rigorous monitoring or enabling strong authentication techniques. Damage assessment and recovery planning can frequently be streamlined if the resources most sensitive to delay or disruption can be quickly identified, salvaged and restored. Business Continuity Planning is not exclusively for the restoration of processes after a disaster or disruptive event. One way to do this is to develop a strategy that establishes external services to provide an expandable production capacity.
Notes (1): BCM encompasses the business continuity (BC), crisis communication (CC), crisis management (CM) or disaster recovery (DR) planning and plan. A Manager’s Guide to ISO 22301 Standard for Business Continuity Management System' (2014) BUY! Many organizations struggle to define the best method to meet business expectations regarding information technology (IT) recovery. ISO 27031 introduces a management systems approach to address ICT in support of a broader business continuity management system, as described in ISO 22301.
As a guidance standard, organizations cannot be certified in ISO 27031 like ISO 22301, but the management system follows many of the same steps that experienced preparedness professionals are used to implementing with business continuity planning. ISO 27031 uses the same basic PDCA management system used in ISO 22301 but adapts it to fit the technical nature of IRBC.
Plan: the Plan phase creates and updates the governance structure for the overall IRBC management system. Do: the Do phase focuses on performing activities and implementing solutions that enable the organization to monitor for, respond to and recover from a disruption to ICT services. Check: the Check phase includes the review and evaluation of the performance of the IRBC management system. Many organizations may already perform some of the “Plan” components of ISO 27031 as part of their Information Technology Disaster Recovery (ITDR) programs.
IRBC strategy formulation essentially means the creation of IT service offerings that ICT staff will include in the service catalog or, more generically, as options for business consideration and selection.
In order to be effective, ISO 27031 states that the IRBC strategies described above need to incorporate six components into monitoring for, responding to and recovering from disruptions to information and communication technology.
Skill and Knowledge: Recovery strategies include consideration regarding the specialized technical skills and knowledge needed to operate ICT services before, during and after a disruption. Facilities: Recovery strategies include mitigating risk associated with operating ICT systems based in a single facility. Technology: Recovery strategies include consideration of the technical requirements needed to meet the organization’s recovery requirements, specifically Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). Data: Recovery strategies include consideration of how to protect the data required by the organization.
Processes: Recovery strategies include consideration of how to sustain the processes necessary to monitor, operate and recover ICT systems in order to meet business requirements.
Suppliers: Recovery strategies include consideration of how to inform and engage suppliers who are needed to recover and operate ICT systems.
Each IRBC strategy option will consider the six components and often result in the creation of tiers to classify information and communication technology that meets the organization’s needs. The Do phase of the IRBC management system includes implementing the strategies identified in the Plan phase, writing recovery plans for ICT services and executing training and awareness activities to ensure personnel involved in the IRBC program are qualified and informed. Strategies that reduce the risk of a disruption will not fully eliminate the possibility of a disruption to information and communication technology. The final part of the Do phase is conducting training and awareness activities to ensure the personnel involved with the IRBC management system (including those with roles in response and recovery plans) are aware of their responsibilities before, during and after a disruption. The Check phase of the IRBC management system includes the typical activities associated with BCM system’s Check phase, including management review and testing and exercising. The Act phase incorporates management review of the IRBC program, including program performance, ICT readiness performance and resource allocation. Often IT professionals are asked to implement mitigation, response and recovery measures in advance of a broader BCM program. The IRBC program detailed in ISO 27031 assists IT and business continuity professionals, together with their program sponsors, in maintaining effective ICT resiliency. This entry was posted in Business Continuity, ISO 22301, ISO 27031, IT Disaster Recovery, Management Systems, Standards by Greg Marbais.
Given an increasingly complicated and data-driven business environment, the importance of an agile data backup and recovery plan is essential to maintaining workflow and maximum efficiency.
After reviewing your critical systems, CAPEMS will design a Business Continuity Plan to help ensure your business can resume operations quickly when the unexpected happens. Far too often backup devices fail, and clients do not discover this until a critical piece of data is needed, only to find it has not been backed up.


By regularly testing the Disaster Recovery systems, CAPEMS ensures the integrity of your data.
Our real-time backup services provide a secure, off-site backup in the event of total failure of your on-site IT system. A conceptual summary of recovery processes that must be carried out between the occurrence of a disaster and the time when normal operations are restored. An alternate processing or interim ability to process data and continue providing critical service while a full recovery of the primary site is underway. This is the template for documenting the Business Continuity strategy for individual business units. The strategy to be adopted immediately after the activation of the business continuity plan.
This is the breakdown of the processes of the critical business functions as identified in the Business Impact Analysis (BIA) phase.
List the advantages, disadvantages, costs, benefits, assumptions made while deciding this strategy and any matters to be followed-up with other business units. Over many years of Business Continuity Plan development, I've come to recognize twelve telltale signs that often foretell the fate of the business continuity planning effort. Business Continuity is often the most crucial element in determining whether an organization can survive a major disruption over the long run. Well, after being very thoughtfully prepared, providing the appropriate documentation and following up with periodic tests and exercises of the plan in a controlled environment, I've seen twelve attributes that tilt the scale toward a successful restoration of business operations as quickly and as effectively as possible. To be effective, the inventory of all critical business functions (both manual and automated) must be created in advance and be accurate. I've seen an exhaustive list of applications that have been deemed by their owners as "critical" in which everything is a #1 priority (most often this is the result of department heads jockeying for position and the designation of "most important") or nothing is important at all (often this occurs when identifying critical applications would result in substantial work to develop the BCP, so to save time and effort, nothing is critical).
Each application must be evaluated for business impact if it were delayed or if it failed, and an appropriate priority assigned.
This may be a direct financial loss, such as failure to ship a finished product, or inability to create a bill for services rendered.
Usually we find that most business functions do not result in a significant brand image or product creation immediately, even though the effect on product quality, regulatory compliance or direct revenue can be immediate. For most computer applications that require data entry, archiving the source documents for re-entry will support full data recovery however the source documents may be lost or destroyed along with the computer files.
Successful Risk Management methods strive to achieve a risk mitigation strategy that it proportionate to the potential for loss. By the time all these scenarios are listed, with all the possible effects on every item and building in the organization, what you end up with is very close to an infinite-by-infinite matrix to solve for the most likely events.
In selecting alternate facilities or sites, failover plans should be tested regularly and temporary assignment of key staff members should be included in the test plan. If you want to see the impact of key decision makers in a Business Continuity Plan, try running a recovery test without certain key roles. This should become a documented element in all job descriptions and performance review standards.
With the cost of replacing and retraining good employees, this simple process can be turned into money in the bank! Called the "No-Plan Plan," it prescribed that every day should be a Disaster Recovery exercise. This is particularly true in industries like food, cosmetics, toys and pharmaceuticals, where regulatory demands impose consistency and quality expectations. Recent efforts have been fruitful in building supply chain resources in collaboration with other organizations, even competitors.
Well-trained and practiced employees are the first line of defense in identifying situations that could become serious. These components are often included in technology operations strategies, but they must be run and monitored to be effective.
There may be similar advance warnings for critical supplies, short term financing, and business partner relations.
Operational sync-points and offline versions of key data files can more easily be accommodated at the onset of the project.
This capacity is often cost prohibitive in existing facilities, but over time, as plants are expanded, upgraded or acquired, these modifications can be made with minimal increased cost.
Training then includes not just regular operation, but alternatives when critical resources are unavailable.
Technical infrastructure and advanced processes can be applied at the domain group level, saving considerable costs and substantially reducing complexity.
When several business units share the benefits and costs however, the expense can be more easily justified. Potential lost revenue is generally reduced when critical business operations are restored more quickly. Successfully executing an effective plan can also provide considerable benefits including increased market share.
A process or technology that is unable to meet dramatic unexpected demand can result in an ultimate loss of customer satisfaction and actually reduce your market share, even in a rapidly expanding market sector.
If these suppliers are used for a portion of the normal production, the process is already in place. Business Continuity Management or BCM is an organization-wide discipline and a complete set of processes that identifies potential impacts which threaten an organization. Holistic management process that identifies potential threats to and organization and the impacts to business operations those threats , if realized, might cause, and which provides a framework for building organizational resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value-creating activities.
A holistic management process that identifies potential impacts which threaten an organization and provides a framework for building organizational resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value-creating activities.
A holistic management process that identifies potential impacts which threaten an organization and provides a framework for building resilience and the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value creating activities.
A holistic management process that identifies potential impacts that threaten an organization and provides a framework for building resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value creating activities.
A holistic management process that identifies potential impacts that threaten an organisation and provides a framework for building resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value creating activities.
Business Continuity Management provides for the availability of processes and resources in order to ensure the continued achievement of critical objectives. Business continuity management provides for the availability of processes and resources in order to ensure the continued achievement of critical objectives. Management process that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value-creating activities by identifying potential impacts that threaten the organization and provides a framework for building resilience and the capability for an effective response.
ISO 27031 provides guidance to business continuity and IT disaster recovery professionals on how to plan for IT continuity and recovery as part of a more comprehensive business continuity management system (BCMS).
In addition to technical changes to PDCA, ISO 27031 also relies on the Business Impact Analysis (BIA) conclusions developed and approved as part of the broader BCMS for an organization.
The key outputs of the Plan phase are an IRBC policy that adequately addresses continuity of information and communication technology and strategy options that the organization can deploy to meet business requirements. The key outputs for the Do phase are the implementation of strategies, generation of plans and execution of training and awareness activities to promote continuity for ICT services. The key outputs of the Check phase include continuous monitoring of information and communication technologies for disruptions and performance levels as well as periodic reviews of ICT responsiveness and recoverability. ISO 27031 considers ITDR as a component of the IRBC, but in reality, very few differences exist. For example, an organization with a service catalog entry for a virtual server would add entries to address recoverability of a virtual server through a variety of means to address a range of recovery objectives.
Strategies that include skill and knowledge considerations focus on ensuring no single individual holds specialized skills or knowledge that would be needed to operate the organization’s ICT systems. Strategies that include facility considerations ensure ICT systems can be operated even if a primary facility is rendered inoperable.
Strategies that include technology considerations involve ensuring hardware and applications are able to be recovered within the time and data recovery required by the organization.
Strategies that include data considerations include security, validity and availability of the data required by end users.
Strategies that consider processes identify the ICT processes necessary prior to, during and after a disruption to ICT systems. Strategies that include supplier considerations identify what suppliers are engaged in the operation and recovery of ICT systems before, during and after a disruption has occurred.
During the Do phase, ICT services will be assigned to a tier, which enables strategy selection.
The IRBC program implements the appropriate strategies identified in the Plan phase to improve ICT readiness for in-scope information and communication technology services.


IT staff implement strategies and draft plans to overcome residual risk when disruptive incidents become reality.
The Check phase also adds in continuous activities which monitor for a disruption to ICT services and measure ICT readiness-related performance. In addition to management review, the IRBC program implements corrective actions that were identified during other phases of the management system. In these instances, the organization hasn’t conducted a holistic business impact analysis to identify the business requirements for applications and hardware.
By implementing an IRBC management system, IT and business continuity professionals help their organization to monitor for, respond to and recover from a disruption to ICT. Your critical data is kept backed up on our own secure file servers, using military-grade encryption with a key only you can use. Let's look at the role of Business Continuity Planning within risk management and these twelve indicators of success. These attributes do not necessarily mean the plan will be a success, nor do they indicate that failing to demonstrate them foretells failure. This inventory needs to include factors that can change an item's priority, such as a cash management application that is extra important just before scheduled large payments like payroll or acquired inventory payments are processed. A temporary workaround can often be used for some period of time before the effect is actually felt, but in almost all business functions, that temporary fix can only be continued for a short time before it becomes cumbersome at best and totally ineffective. Effective file and document archive procedures can help prevent losing these critical transaction records entirely. There have been numerous attempts at detailing the steps required for a thorough risk assessment strategy. It is much easier to look at the four key elements of People, Process, Plan and Technology and to ignore the event that can cause a disruption, but instead look at the effect on those elements in only two categories: Total Loss and Significant Reduction in functionality. A professional athlete doesn't stop practicing when the contract is signed (with some notable exceptions). Approval of alternate suppliers or alternate processors can require months by the approval agencies, and production may be limited or unavailable while this approval is obtained.
In one instance, a company whose offices were located in an urban skyscraper were informed that another tenant in the building had an employee who unknowingly came to the office with a contagious case of the measles. Part of the plan is to teach employees to recognize the signs of an impending disruption in normal activity. Like the old joke about the two guys in the jungle trying to outrun the tiger, Business Continuity Planning is the ability to respond more quickly and more successfully than competitors to gain a competitive advantage.
For example, transportation costs, technology changes or imminent weather conditions can cause a dramatic increase in demand. It provides a capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its major stakeholders and reputation. Also the management of the overall programme through training, rehearsals, and reviews, to ensure the plan stays current and up to date.
The standard helps IT personnel identify the requirements for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and implement strategies to reduce the risk of disruption, as well as recognize, respond to and recover from a disruption to ICT.
In the Plan phase, the organization implements a policy to govern processes and requirements for the IRBC. The organization may choose to provide two recovery strategies for recovery of a virtual machine with different recovery times to meet business requirements identified through the BIA. These considerations must include support systems such as power, cooling, staffing, vendor support and WAN connectivity.
Once IT identifies the strategy options, the organization’s management should consider the amount of risk reduced by the strategy against the cost of implementing the strategy.
Response and recovery plan documentation is required to ensure personnel understand the activities necessary to meet business expectations. The goal of the corrective actions is to ingrain a culture of continuous improvement in the organization and engage management with the prioritization of continual improvement. Some IT organizations will use intuition and past experiences to establish ICT response and recovery requirements, such as RTO and RPO. ISO 27031 applies and adapts the BCM concepts described in ISO 22301 to assist with reducing the risk of disruptions to information and communication technologies, as well as to the business as a whole. Frequently all four are combined into an overall process, which is good, but then handed off to a single person, or a small team of people who are charged with trying to satisfy the basic requirements of all of them in one fell swoop. There are always humans going an extra step beyond their expectations, good (or bad) luck, timing and a whole host of factors that cannot be measured.
That point in time when the process must be restored is called the Recovery Time Objective (RTO). That transforms the target of the risk assessment from an infinite by infinite matrix by a much simpler four by two matrix. The obvious scenario is that these people were casualties of the event, but to offset a morbid test environment, try declaring that these or other key positions are "on their honeymoon" or "sick with the flu" or "having a baby." Then put the alternate in charge of that function and invite the "missing" incumbent to observe the decision making, but forbid them from participating or providing direction. All data files and programs were stored on tape (primarily to offset the high cost of disk storage at that time), and every critical computer system started with a step that restored the programs and data from the tape to the disk, followed by execution of the application, and concluded with the creation of a new tape for use in the next scheduled processing. All tenants were notified that they could expose pregnant employees or family members of employees who rode in the same elevator bank to this disease.
Of all the companies I've worked with over the years, pretty much all of them have been able to recover from a disruptive event. Thorough Business Continuity Plans often include these dramatic increases in demand as well as loss of functions.
IRBC uses the same Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model as the business continuity management system described in ISO 22301. Those two recovery strategies are then incorporated into the organization’s service catalog either as separate entries or incorporated into existing service catalog entries. Overall, the result of the Plan phase is a list of strategies to add or update in the service catalog, which allows the organization to select the appropriate level of recoverability.
ISO 27031 includes many of the same considerations that are used in ISO 22301, including plan purpose and scope, defined roles and responsibilities, alternate personnel, plan invocation criteria, and contact information. However, using intuition and past experiences will often lead to gaps between business expectations for recovery of information and communication technology and actual recoverability. But good business continuity planning is all about eliminating or reducing the dependency on these random coincidences.
At arranged times of the day, or the month, or in the production cycle, try to decide how to stack the cards. When connected to the revenue streams the RTO represents the maximum time that the facility, person, process or technology is unavailable or delayed until revenue is seriously impacted. Coincidentally, it was an excellent technology recovery plan in that it could be easily transported to any of a couple dozen nearby data centers that had compatible computers, and run completely with minimal disruption of the new host. As a result, alternate plans were drawn up so that employees concerned about this exposure could continue to work without physically coming to the office. The objective of IRBC is to implement strategies that will reduce the risk of disruption to ICT services as well as respond to and recover from a disruption. The IRBC uses inputs from the organization’s BIA to translate the business requirements into ICT performance requirements for ICT services. An easy way to develop recovery requirements for ICT services is to consider conducting a more focused application impact analysis (AIA) that focuses on the uses of ICT services and measures the impact to the organization of a disruption based on one or a group of related services. All are important and each one has a specific critical role to play in resolving serious disruptions, but each one is a complex process and can require more effort than a single person or small group of people can accomplish.
If risk management efforts start at the lowest level of detail, chances are pretty good that before all the details have been tallied, the cost factors will have changed.
Business continuity and IT professionals will find the use of the PDCA model very familiar but with necessary changes to support recoverability of ICT based on business requirements and expectations. The Plan phase concludes with generating IRBC strategy options, which will be implemented in the Do phase. All of them also could have recovered more quickly and more easily if they had done something just a bit differently.
As shown in the graphic, being prepared gives you the advantage of getting "back in business" sooner than your competitors.



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