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Business Continuity and its connection to Risk Management

8 Feb

What is the relationship between risk management and business continuity? Is one a subset of the other? Is one more important than the other? A good analysis lies here but without doubt, risk management is important when comprehending business continuity and may be of substantial help when our team go to develop a framework for management teams who are creating a business continuity plan.

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The foundation of Business Continuity is the policies, guidelines, standards, and procedures implemented by an organization.  All system design, implementation, support, and maintenance must be based on this foundation in order to have any hope of achieving Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, or in some cases, system support. (2)

Risk management is a central part of any organisation’s strategic management. It is the process whereby organisations methodically address the risks attaching to their activities with the goal of achieving sustained benefit within each activity and across the portfolio of all activities. The focus of good risk management is the identification and treatment of these risks. Its objective is to add maximum sustainable value to all the activities of the organisation. It marshals the understanding of the potential upside and downside of all those factors which can affect the organisation. It increases the probability of success, and reduces both the probability of failure and the uncertainty of achieving the organisation’s overall objectives. Risk management should be a continuous and developing process which runs throughout the organisation’s strategy and the implementation of that strategy. It should address methodically all the risks surrounding the organisation’s activities past, present and in particular, future. (3)

Risk Assessment of the FCA (Farm Credit Administration) 

Essential Practices for Information Technology

Under their business continuity plan, they have a risk assessment statement which states:

Conduct a risk assessment to develop response strategies, which:

  • Identify events and likelihood of those events that could cause interuptions to business processes and services;
  • Assess impact from loss of information and services from both internal and external sources;
  • Assess the criticality of all business areas; and
  • Identify and prioritise critical services, operations, and personnel provided by internal and external service providers.

Risk management is a “central part of any organisation’s strategic management”

Risk management should be a “continuous and developing process which runs throughout the organisation’s strategy and the implementation of that strategy.”

Risk management “protects and adds value to the organisation and its stakeholders through supporting the organisation’s objectives by

“providing a framework for an organisation that enables future activity to take place in a consistent and controlled manner”. (3)

Risk management is a fundamental management process and and I feel it could prove to be an important element which we could implement into our framework when we are developing and crafting it. What are your thoughts? Maybe it serves another purpose or maybe it could be useful? Any comments would be great.

(1) http://www.continuitycentral.com/feature0178.htm

(2) http://www.theirm.org/publications/documents/Risk_Management_Standard_030820.pdf

(3) http://www.fca.gov/Download/ITManual/itbusinesscontinuity.pdf

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Developing a Business Continuity Plan – the PPRR framework

6 Feb

 

 

PPRR Framework

Throughout the past blogs, our group has discussed Business continuity and the cloud (ericlynch1), Hurricane Katrina (billynomates), business disaster recovery plan (Mirra2). Our discussion on business continuity has been developing well but I feel that we now need to start incorporating relevant literature on actual framworks which will help us to craft an effective Business Continuity Plan framework. One such plan is the PPRR framework.

 

 

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Developing a BCP and using the appropriate framework is a very difficult process. It is not an exact science and it is open to interpretation. A particular template that is available to a company is the Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery (PPRR) framework. Each of the four key elements is represented by a part in the Business Continuity Planning Process. It is important to distinguish that a BCP is to be implemented after a disaster has been stabilised.

Prevention – Risk Management planning

Incorporates the Prevention element that identifies and manages the likelihood and/or effects of risk associated with an incident.

Preparedness –  Business Impact Analysis

Incorporates the Preparedness element that identifies and prioritises the key activities of a business that may be adversely affected by any disruptions.

Response – Incident Response planning

Incorporates the Response element and outlines immediate actions taken to respond to an incident in terms of containment, control and minimising impacts.

Recovery –  Recovery planning

Incorporates the Recovery element that outlines actions taken to recover from an incident in order to minimise disruption and recovery times.

There is also a section entitled Rehearse, Maintain and Review which encourages the business to test, regularly review and update the Business Continuity Plan to ensure that the staff are familiar with it, and that it reflects your changing business needs.

Many academics discuss whether PPRR is an outdated framework and it is not without its limitations. What do people think? Could we implement some of its principles into our own framework?

 

(1) http://www.business.qld.gov.au/__…/Business_Continuity_Plan_Template…

(2) Wikipedia – Emergency Management

Business Continuity – Definition and Understanding

15 Jan

“Business Continuity – Developing a framework to support management teams in creating business continuity plans”.

Defining Business Continuity is vital upon successfully developing this framework and I feel should not be left with any ambiguity and so I decided to build on Billynomates2012 initial blog which accurately defined Business Continuity.

Business Continuity – the term needs to be addressed substantially before beginning how one can support management teams in creating business plans. Billynomates2012 provided us with an outstanding beginning to this blog and I must applaud his efforts in helping me understand the term more.

I would like to outline some practical examples of business continuity plans to copper fasten the term in both my groups minds and maybe even the oppositions. Billynomates2012 describes business continuity using expressions such as ‘holistic’, ‘critical business functions’ and ‘maintenance’. I particularly liked the description whereby he quotes Business Continuity as ‘those activities performed daily to maintain service, consistency, and recoverability’. I gained a real insight by these definitions.

Throughout some initial research, I began noticing that Business Continuity is a very pragmatic business practice and I found some interesting images to help understand it. Dorsetconnects.com explains how a business continuity plan can help your business; “After a hardware malfunction, data loss, or weather disaster, how long will it take your business to be up and running? Without a proper business continuity plan, most small businesses incur 3 to 4 days of downtime from the most common hardware failure”. (www.dorsetconnects.com)

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This image below shows simply how the business needs to put a plan in place to explain how they will get through future problems using very pragmatic approach. Management needs to be put in place these Business Continuity Plans to ensure the business can stay active and avoid downtimes.

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In layman’s terms, “Business Continuity seeks to prevent interruption of mission-critical services, and to re-establish full functioning as swiftly and smoothly as possible.” (http://searchstorage.techtarget.com/definition/business-continuance).

I hope this blog compliments Billynomates2012 foundation blog and helps focus us comprehend the term Business Continuity a bit better. Your thoughts and comments are , as always, most welcome.

Jamesdaly1990.

Information Systems: To Recap

30 Nov

As a final blog, I would like to give a brief and swift thanks to all involved in the thread entitled ‘What is an Information System?’ I have encountered a wealth of knowledge and have spent a considerable amount of time appreciating the works of both my own team and the opposing team. I suppose I’d like to summarise the points which became known to me throughout the course of the 6 weeks.

Here’s a brief list of the points I took from the blogs:

  • Information Systems involve People, Process, and Technology
  • Information Systems are different from Information Technology
  • Information Systems have been in existence longer than I had originally believed
  • They have the capability to allow a company to gain a competitive advantage
  • I.S needs to be implemented and utilised properly and efficiently, otherwise they can fail magnificently.
  • I.S is important to benchmark against other companies but also to provide a figure of merit.
  • Business Models need the use of I.S to provide a workable template.
  • Information Systems are essential to the business world of today.

 

Thanks for listening.

Jamesdaly1990.

Crisis Informatics: A new form of I.S

28 Nov

For my penultimate blog, I shall look at a lesser known Information System which is still really in its infancy.

As we have seen in recent blogs, there are lesser known Information Systems, such as GIS which may or may not play a pivotal role in transforming our world for the better.

Crisis Informatics has been formally confined from within the context of the full disaster lifecycle—preparation, warning, impact, response and recovery. The “information arena” of disaster varies by the spatial, temporal and subsequent social arrangements of the hazard upon a built environment (Palen & Liu, 2007)

In layman’s terms crisis informatics “strives for socially- and behaviorally informed development of ICT for crisis situations.” One of the initial blogs looked at the Information System used for WW1 called the acoustic mirrors, which were used in times of crisis. The way I will be using the term Crisi Informatics is with a more contemporary and digital view involving People, Process, and Technology.

Some ways in which people share and use information during times of crisis are;

  1. Microblogging
  2. Collective Intelligence

Microblogging

Micro-blogging was used during different crises including Natural Revolution and Revolutionary Uprising. The Arab Spring in 2011 saw a torrent of information diffusedbetween people afflicted and people who were yet to get involved or for those to stay away from dangerous positions. The Re-tweet feature came into play for the 2010 Haiti Earthquake also. Survivors used Twitter and facebook for help. Microblogging is an inexpensive and extremely rapid tool to make contact with others and in times of crisis has proved its initial worth. A group called “Voluntweeters” were set-up after the Haiti Earthquake and formally organised themselves to write about any disasters or revolutions.

 

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The  emblem for the Group called the ‘Voluntweeters’

Collective Intelligence

The Virginia Tech Massacre of 2007 saw another type of I.S in a time of crisis. The event saw Seung-Hui Cho massacre 32 people and injure 15 others.

“The shootings occurred on Monday morning, April 16, 2007; our team began monitoring official and unofficial news release later that day. One of the first news releases on CNN.com mentioned students posting information to a Web site while in their journalism class as the crisis unfolded.”

The information was sent and authorities were made aware. This shows how intelligence can be compiled and obtained during times of crisis. Following the 2007 shootings, Virginia Tech began employing an alert system on their website and text messages to warn students of danger. The alert system was first activated in 2008 when an exploded cartridge from a nail gun produced sounds similar to gunfire near a campus dormitory. Later in 2011, on December 8, the system was activated again after a police officer was shot and killed on campus. Systems can be set up like this to lessen further casualties.

 

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 Seung-Hui Cho

 

 

These are two interesting examples of how people are using Information Systems, in the form of Social Networks, to spread information about ongoing crises. It is a very different system to what we have been looking at before but it does give people a ‘Competitive Advantage’ to survive. What do people think, are Crisis Informatics an innovative form of spreading vital information during times when this information can be utilised sufficiently. 

Do people think it is a new and useful Information System?

The Coca-Cola Business Model and their competitive advantage

23 Nov

We’ve seen that Competitive advantage in simple terminology is what your company is best at. Why do your customers buy from you and not your competitors? What is the value that the business can create for the customer?

Another look at competitive advantage allows us a different perspective into its relationship with business models, innovation and information systems. A competitive advantage is attainable if the current strategy is value-creating, and not currently being implemented by present or possible future competitors. Sustaining a competitive advantage is difficult and although a competitive advantage has the ability to become sustained, this is not necessarily the case. A competing firm can enter the market with a resource that has the ability to invalidate the prior firm’s competitive advantage, which results in reduced rents. Sustainability in the context of a sustainable competitive advantage is independent with regard to the time frame. Rather, a competitive advantage is sustainable when the efforts by competitors to render the competitive advantage redundant have ceased. When the imitative actions have come to an end without disrupting the firm’s competitive advantage, the firm’s strategy can be called sustainable.

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After extensive reading, a link I keep seeing is the connection between innovation, competitive advantage, information systems and business models. A few examples show this;

Dell became really successful by exploring the web as a distribution channel. Gillette has made a fortune by establishing a continuous relationship with customers based on its disposable razors. Apple resurged based on its core capacity of bringing design to computers and electronic gadgets. Cisco became famous for its capacity of configuring activities in new and innovative supply chains. Intel thrived for its capacity to get partners to build on its processing platform. Google tapped in an innovative revenue streams by linking highly specific search results and content with text ads. Wal-Mart became dominant by its ability to slash cost throughout its business model.

Coca Cola is an example of a company with sustained competitive advantage, innovation, an extensive business model and an intelligent and substantial distribution network. The best example of a company with a sustainable competitive advantage is The Coca-Cola Company. The Coca-Cola Company was incorporated in 1892 to produce the sweet fizzy drink – first developed by a pharmacist – that has become the world’s most recognised brand.

Today, almost 120 years later, The Coca-Cola Company is still going strong and is one of the most sought-after stocks on the New York Stock Exchange. Coca-Cola’s competitive advantage has proven its sustainability over the last 100 years.

This can be ascribed to:

  • The secret recipe for Coca-Cola, which arguably tastes better than other cola drinks.
  • Their ability to continue developing new products and re-inventing old ones – Coca-Cola currently offers over 400 brands in 200 markets worldwide.
  • The world’s most comprehensive distribution system has made Coca-Cola accessible to billions of people worldwide. Coca-Cola is often available in ample supply to people in areas where other consumer goods companies would never consider delivering their products. The African continent is an excellent example – it’s fairly common to see a small shop selling cold Coke in the middle of nowhere.
  • Coca-Cola’s production techniques are so well developed that it costs a fraction of the selling price to manufacture their product, resulting in high profit margins.

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http://www.businessmodelalchemist.com/

http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Resource-based_view

Coca-Cola Business Model- Google Images

http://www.cocacolasabco.com/

Information Systems and Business Models

19 Nov

As the bloggers of this “What is an Information System” thread have seen, I have tried to tie up loose ends and open new debates when I felt a relevant issue wasn’t being raised sufficiently or even at all. The definitions of I.S have been exhausted and I.S and competitive advantage have being discussed at length.  I feel that an analysis into how exactly Information Systems fit into an organisations business model would allow us gain a greater scope and appreciation for Information Systems and their worth.

We can (I hope) universally agree that Information Systems are essential to businesses today. In many instances, organisations survival and even existence without Information Systems is inconceivable. It can provide the foundation for innovation in products, services and ways of conducting business that provide firms with competitive and strategic advantages.

The concept of a business model is key to understanding how Information Systems are implemented into a business. One definition for a business model is that a “Business model describes the rationale of how an organisation creates, delivers and captures value” (Osterwalder, 2010) The business model can be alluded to the ‘blueprint’ of a business and so by viewing this ‘blueprint’ we should be able to see just how Information Systems can be implemented into an organisation as well as how it runs in the business and how it can improve efficiency within the organisation.

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To cope with the fast-changing business world, it is imperative that an organisations Information System is developed to reflect the core business model. Businesses are changing more rapidly and providing more services than before. In order to support such a fast changing environment, I.S have to be flexible and easy to change. Since most organizations have already invested a lot of money to develop the I.S they have now, it is unreasonable and even impossible to replace them. I.S is a major platform for businesses to contact suppliers, customers, and employees in an effective manner.

(Yair Wand et al., Linking Information Systems Architecture to the Business Model)

By focusing on this template, an organisation can decide how I.S may fit into their business and how it may improve we’ll say customer relationships (more efficient customer service), or key activities, or maybe even revenue streams. They can decide that I.S may be beneficial in how they can create value for the customer.

Any thoughts on how we can study Information Systems through the use of the business model?

Information Systems: Explaining Competitive Advantages

8 Nov

Progressing from and building on 111222787jd’s blog as well as my own case study of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, I would like to discuss the term Competitive Advantage and its specific meaning with regard to Information Systems. We have seen the term on a few accessions throughout this blog without it being explained sufficiently. A substantial definition from Cole Ehmke is that, “A competitive advantage is an advantage gained over competitors by offering customers greater value, either through lower prices or by providing additional benefits and service that justify similar, or possibly higher, prices.” Ehmke

Do Information Systems give an organisation a competitive advantage over its competitors? This question has been debated in Erik Brynjolfsson’s piece The Productivity Paradox (amongst the huge body of literature that followed) which gave empirical evidence that suggested that I.S did not give a good Return on Investment (ROI). From my own opinion, productivity could not measure intangibles such as the value the organisation creates for its customers and hence giving them an edge over its competitors.

Another understanding for competitive advantage is “When a firm sustains profits that exceed the average for its industry, the firm is said to possess a competitive advantage over its rivals. The goal of much of business strategy is to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage” (Porter, 1985)

Porter went on to define 3 basic elements that made up Competitive Advantage, namely;

  1. Cost Leadership – selling a product cheaper than its competitors whilst maintaining parity in quality.
  2. Differentiation – being the best performer in its industry in different ways other than cost – namely, uniqueness
  3. Focus  – focus on narrow or broad usage of the above terms. Exploit rivals that are under-performing using cost leadership or differentiation through niche utilisation of competitive advantage.

Porter

Competitive advantage that can be sustained is imperative for an organisation. Information systems can and have had a huge effect on helping a company gain a competitive advantage as we have seen numerous examples throughout this blog. These systems in turn help create value and give the organisation an ‘edge’ over its competitors in ways that sometimes cannot be measured using standard metrics but by using KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and appreciating intangible benefits. Information systems have been instrumental in helping organisations sustain a competitive advantage in recent decades and continue to do so.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

Information System – Banco Popular de Puerto Rico

1 Nov

A decent amount of work has been invested into Information System definitions and components of I.S. I would like to explore and further everyone’s understanding of Information Systems through the example of an I.S system implemented by SAP into Banco Popular de Puerto Rico.

Company Name: Banco Popular de Puerto Rico.

Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Assets: $8.6 Billion (2011)

Banco Popular de Puerto Rico is an example of a company who decided to update its IS system using SAP ERP. They wanted to update the IT platform supporting the operating structure; automate processes, allowing for them to offer more value to clients; minimize paperwork and reduce manual, error-prone processes; and have access to constantly updated information.

The systems that it bought from SAP were the SAP ERP Human Management Capital and SAP ERP Financials to create a single, integrated solution to enhance both its human capital and financial management operations. They were looking for a single integrated solution sign-on access to HR data and services as well as up-to-date data available for generating customised reports.

Nowadays, Banco Popular manages its human capital in a much more modern, agile, and accurate fashion, getting the best out of SAP ERP HCM. With the implementation of the intranet portal, Banco Popular now ensures that each user – with the convenience of a single sign-on – has access to a central, consolidated system and gets news and communications relating to his or her job. Via its portal the bank supports both managers and employees with self-service transactions. For example, by using manager self-service functionality, supervisors can administer their work groups dynamically and flexibly, being able, for example, to approve processes remotely. For the staff themselves, the employee self-service features of the portal enable them to access important documents online, such as tax forms and work-related manuals and documentation. (http://www.sap.com/customer-testimonials/industries/banking.epx)

Information systems, in this example SAP ERP Human Management Capital and SAP ERP Financials, are an extremely important aspect to any business and their utilisation can lead to increased business value, increased efficiency as well as a sustained competitive advantage.

In conclusion, there are many more examples of Information Systems that can be given through case studies and I believe it creates greater value to us as researchers. If anyone would like to take another sector and case study it might be worth looking at!?

Aside

What is an Information System?

21 Oct

The background and history of an Information System has been discussed by 111222787jd whereby he discussed its inception and some of its initial basis. Whilst others have discussed some definitions and uses, I would like to propose my own findings as to what an Information System is and some key definitions.

Firstly I will begin with the basic concept of I.S  and move into more complex definitions from there. An information system represents a collaboration between;

1)      People

2)      Process

3)      Technology

This gives a simplified understanding of how an information system works. These three components come together to collect and use data. A simple one minute video represents this here… Don’t watch after 1.08; it moves from an informative piece to a marketing video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJYFpwbvuDc (accessed through blackboard.ucc.ie)

A more comprehensive definition of an Information System relevant to business and organisations  “is a system, whether automated or manual, that comprises the entire infrastructure, organisation, people, machines, and/or methods organised to collect, process, transmit and disseminate data that represent user information” (Zachman Framework in Technology Information Systems, Mladen Varga). This shows the multi-dynamic nature of an Information System and it can be seen as almost the blood running through the body of an organisation.

Do people find this definition comprehensive and accurate? Of course when we go into the more intricate details of an Information System we see that there are different types. Some examples include;

  1. Transaction Processing Systems
  2. Management Information Systems
  3. Decision Support Systems
  4. Expert Systems

On a general level, Information Systems is a massively broad term but its importance has been growing for decades until now where organisations strive for excellence in acquiring and utilising data for increased business performance. A good understanding of an Information System, what it can do for your business and how to implement it as well as proper utilisation is seen as priority for most businesses and is ignored only to the detriment of business owners.

Hopefully this blog will undercover all the basic aspects of definitions as well as clearing up some of the misunderstandings and misconceptions as to the definitions of an Information System.

Your thoughts or comments are most welcome!

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