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Business Continuity Framework

22 Feb

Introduction

As per Assignment 2 and as part of our module IS6118, we have developed a Business Continuity framework based on our previous blogs regarding Business Continuity. We have used different components discussed in our blogs regarding the topic to produce 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 [1][3]. We have researched different components of the framework and also background to business continuity to get a better understanding of the topic. We have also looked how technologies can be used to help with business continuity and also how a framework has been used in real life case studies. We have decided on 7 main components of a business continuity framework:

1)      Policy/Planning

2)      Management

3)      Communication

4)      Reporting

5)      Identify Critical Business Functions

6)      Analysis

7)      Implementation

Business Framework

Business Continuity Framework

 

1) Policy/Planning

Business continuity planning is an essential future plan for a business in order to provide a service without any factors affecting its performance. A business can never foresee future events such as a crime, natural disaster, IT failure, power failure, fire, etc. [1]. When it comes to policy and planning service level agreements are fundamental to achieving business continuity. Downtime whether it is planned or not can be hugely damaging to an organisation and it is for this reason why SLA’s are incorporated. They effectively ensure the minimum levels of availability from suppliers and then lay out a plan to define what actions will take place in the event of disruption. The challenge comes when trying to link business continuity and SLA’s together as there are certain services which most definitely require service-level-agreements to be put in place. There are internal and external services which will require necessary SLA’s and they vary from RTO’s, RPO’s, review of BIA, risk assessment, network recovery, time required to recover and restart from failover etc. Such companies as IBM have developed a solution to organisations which enables them to improve business continuity much more efficiently and effectively to data protection strategy and storage infrastructure by applying service level concepts [2] [3].

Business continuity plan is devised to lessen down the distraction that could be caused by the disaster and keep the business competitive. The Business Continuity plan should include the occurrence of several events including equipment failure; disturbance in power supply or telecommunication; application failure or database corruption; human fault, disruption or strike; malicious Software (i.e. viruses, trojan horses or worms) attack; hacking; other Internet attacks; social disturbances or terrorist attacks, fire, theft and natural disasters like flood, hurricane, earthquake etc. [5].

2) Management

Managing the Business Continuity Policy or plan is essential to its success. Assessing the risk(s) that threaten(s) the company is an essential prerequisite to crafting a BCP. Conducting a risk assessment to develop response strategies is vital to a successful BCP. Another management priority is to frequently Rehearse, Maintain and Review the BCP [4]. Management from the top is crucial to the framework as there will be a clear outline of procedures and processes and the risks which need to be eliminated. The strategy of the organisation needs to be clearly defined in order to ensure the BCP is utilised appropriately and the management should also aim to create a culture of business continuity in the organisation and drive home the significance the BCP and this in turn will contribute to the success of it. If this isn’t driven home by the management then the business could be in jeopardy as the costs associated with business continuity could spiral. The Business Continuity Program should be aligned with the enterprise business objectives and that is the responsibility of the management [2].

3) Communication

Communication involves producing plans for training staff that would be involved in the business continuity process and also plans for testing the systems that are involved in the recovery. Identify key staff and potential backup staff in the event of a disaster. Hold staff meetings. Every employee should be made aware of the BCP and should be reminded of it on a regular basis. Test the BCP and put it into action sop that if the day arrives that it needs to be implemented then at least you have practice runs completed [1][5][3]. The idea of communication as part of the business continuity framework is a hugely important aspect as it allows for the framework to be tested before implementation. There is a huge gap here in the framework to utilise the medium of social networks and it is time that businesses start thinking about incorporating social media into their business continuity. One of the main reasons social media will be used during a business continuity plan is for communication during a crisis, disaster or planned and unplanned downtime. Through analysing the opportunities available to businesses through the use of social media to support the business continuity, tools such as ‘Yammer’ can support the HR team in terms of being able to communicate with employees and provide better care in the midst of an incident of downtime. Social media allows the employees a greater influence over an organisation than ever before whether they like to admit it or not. Other social media outlets include, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube etc. By using in-house social media tools will aid in improving business processes and procedures due to feedback generated by employees whether it be good or bad and as a result this will help provide more information on areas for improvement which then in turn leads to better BCM. Also in order for a business continuity plan to work the professionals need to be in direct contact with the powers that be in a company in order to understand the company they are working with to ensure that the right risks are mitigated with effective approaches and methods [2].

4) Reporting

A document should be prepared outlining all the remedies in the event of a BCP been implemented and should be easily accessible in an identified location. Duplicate copies should be distributed to employees and also digitally and in an off-site location [3]. In reference to an off-site location this is where the cloud comes into the equation when an organisation is in partnership with a trusted cloud service. These reports, data and information can be stored in the cloud and that is one of the major advantages of utilising the cloud. In the event of planned or unplanned downtime the organisation can rely on the trusted cloud service to have the data readily available and easily accessible. However there may be certain issues when it comes to storing information depending on the jurisdiction and territory but this only applies to regulated organisations. Data integrity will also need to be addressed for the Business Continuity Plan [2].

5) Identify Critical Business Functions

If a business has a plan in place to deal with such events, then the essential functions of a business are fail safe and a business can provide an uninterrupted service. Identify critical external contacts which includes essential information about the contact and the contact list should also include solicitors, IT consultants, landlord etc. information. Identify essential equipment. Make sure there is a back-up system in place such as RAID in the event of a disaster or emergency. Also back up generators and hardware should be ready to use in the event there is a computer failure or power failure [3]. Identify Essential Documents. Documents regarding employee information, premises lease, tax papers, legal issues etc. should be duplicated and stored off site in the event of a fire or natural disaster. The business should be able to set up again [1]. The cloud can aid with the running of business critical functions in the event of downtime as when organisations are in partnership with a trusted cloud service they will have access to a secure and exclusive network with an extremely high availability and this will allow this critical business functions to operate [2].

6) Analysis

Analyse what roles and responsibilities are given to employees during disaster recovery, along with full contact details and capability profiles. Identify Essential Documents. Documents regarding employee information, premises lease, tax papers, legal issues etc. should be duplicated and stored off site in the event of a fire or natural disaster. The business should be able to set up again [1]. The purpose of the risk analysis is to identify procedures that could possibly prevent or reduce the effect of a disaster. These procedures include educating personnel about issues such as security, Vandalism, workplace violence and so on. Risk Analysis involves the analysis of the organisational environment to identify threats that could lead to a disastrous situation.

Areas to be reviewed for such threats are the actual physical location of the organisation, access security, the organisation’s policies, practices and the construction of any of the organisation’s facilities. The objective of this analysis is to identify the vulnerabilities that could cause the most damage to the organisation and to select the appropriate controls for providing effective protection.

The Business Impact Analysis (BIA) can be divided into 3 steps:

1)      Performing the BIA

2)      Determining the minimum processing requirements

3)      Analysing the risk.

Analysing the risk differ from the traditional risk analysis because it actually refers to the prioritisation of resources as well as the identification of possible loss situations for resources [5].

7) Implementation

Implementation involves providing details of services and equipment available to be utilized during recovery. Also, outlining details of all the steps in the recovery process, both to get an initial basic operation up and running, and for full restoration of business. Create a list of responsibilities for implementation of a BCP. This should identify which employee does what and how. Such as person who should phone the fire brigade, this person could be appointed as the Fire Safety Officer [1]. When the development of the strategies recovery is done or completed, then it is now time to implement these strategies. While waiting to implement or to develop these strategies much preparation is needed. For example set up procedures for backup, contracts and agreements. This would also involve assigning personnel to various tasks in case disaster strikes. These tasks are called emergency response practice and should be performed by a team [5].

 Conclusion

Based on our above framework and from our previous blogs we feel that for business to continue during a disaster the organisation should follow the guidelines mapped out in our framework. By using the components discussed we feel that a business will be fully prepared in the event of planned or unplanned downtime which affects the performance of the business and thus in turn will lead to loss in revenue. Management needs to be involved from the outset in order to clarify the needs of the organisation and insure that critical business functions will be made a priority and aligned with the enterprise business objectives.

 

Source [1] https://sopinion8ed.wordpress.com/author/billynomates2012/

Source [2] https://sopinion8ed.wordpress.com/author/ericlynch1/

Source [3] https://sopinion8ed.wordpress.com/author/gashe2k12/

Source [4] https://sopinion8ed.wordpress.com/author/jamesdaly1990/

Source [5] https://sopinion8ed.wordpress.com/author/mirra2/

 

Group 5
Greg Ashe
Shane Counihan
James Stephen Daly
Ruth Kapinga
Eric Edward Lynch

 

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Basic Building Blocks for Determining IS Services and Outputs.

7 Feb

In our previous blog we dis- assembled the various components involved in the measurement of IS management. These entities are further disassembled here and moulded into a certain visual structure which suggests a kind of pattern or suggestive interactive framework in their working relationship.

Narratively the environment comprise of business elements interacting with information systems to produce a certain quality of outputs? Therefore our building blocks will be derived from the following entities:

Environment: cultural, economic, political, demographic, regulatory and technological, consumers, competition etc.

As indicated above the environmental factors are physical, cultural, economic, political, demographic, regulatory and technological factors that affect the business (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/environmental-factors.html).

Organisation: planning, organising, staffing, directing, and controlling

Similarly, the management functions compose primarily of five basic functions which are utilised to accomplish the desired goals and objectives of the organisation. The management therefore comprise of planning, organising, staffing, directing, and controlling the people and the process in order to accomplish the desired goals of the organisation (Henri Fayol, 1841-1925) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fayolism . To these 5 functions we shall add information system management as a factor of business management (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Management). All the above functions are targeted towards some desired goals and objectives which are measurable outputs.

Also the Information System comprises of people, process, IT artefacts.

The Output comprises of measurable values and other characteristics of different qualities

Without going into many details, these business functions have individual, interrelated and collective goals which are tied to the overall organisational mission. Therefore we shall formulate and analyse this integration and interrelationship of business functions and information technology functions in an environment.  Building these entities into a building a framework gives the visual impression shown below in Fig 1 below.

Fig. 1 A framework for the interaction of Information System and other entities in a business.

interactive components

 

 

Developing a framework for management teams to determine the quality of their IS services and outputs.

5 Feb

We should begin the above topic by selecting the basic components and differentiating them into primary constituents. The question requires us to derive a framework (basic structure or building blocks) for management to measure the Information System Quality (ISQ). Usually the Information System and the organisation are intermingled to produce measurable outputs in the environment and the environment also feeds into the system. Therefore the various entities of the various systems have to be disassembled. This will result to some basic questions, such as:  What are the components of the organisation and what are the components of the information technology? How do they interact with themselves and how do they interact with the components of the environment. How do they produce measurable outputs? These questions are related to the narratives of the functions of the members or entities involved in the system. This system therefore comprise of the following; Information System, of an organisation, operating to produce a measurable (quality) output, which feeds back into the environment of people including customers and businesses including competitors.

We will try to understand the nature of the relationships between these entities. The relationships may be one-way relationship, mutual or two-way relationship or opposing relationship. We will also disintegrate these entities into their smaller composite parts. In this case we have to decompose the business organisation and the environment into various functions. Also we have to breakdown information systems into various components to derive a measurable output quality.

The following entities are now part of the requirements analysis for the framework:

Information System: comprising of people, process, IT artefacts

Organisation: comprising all the business functions

Output: comprising of various values and other measurable characteristics (of quality)

Environment: of people including consumers and business including competitors etc

Finally we will relate these major entities to derive a workable framework and to derive some measurable characteristics in their relationships.

New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue

28 Nov

Part 4 of More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change

The growth of the Internet has allowed individuals and businesses easy access to vast amounts of data and information. In an age where customers and suppliers have a more accurate understanding of their purchasing and vending values a business model needs to yield value propositions that are compelling to customers, achieves advantageous cost and risk structures and enables significant value.

Production, enterprise, consumption and economic growth operates in virtuous loops, with each socio-technological cycle advancing this trend. Understanding why social business is important today requires understanding the tools and their functions. However, it is nothing without new and improved ideas, value sets and priorities to govern more efficient and effective organisational behaviour.

Similar to how technology and tools often emerge where economic need or opportunity is greatest, there is often a complimenting widening and expansion of the possibilities and applications regarding how societies and organisations conduct themselves. This is reinforced by the clustering nature of human nature, with areas experiencing technological and process advancements, golden ages even. Especially if wider discourse provides intellectual scale. Examining the greats of political economy this correlation becomes clearer.

Returning to the Industrial Age, The Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th Century provided an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. Building on the nascent ideas of utilitarianism sparked by Thomas Hobbes mechanistic view of human beings and passions, in 1776 Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations, crystallizing how the industrial revolution would irrevocably transform processes and actions. Such was the shift in thought, Smith was describing emerging functions prior to terms like economics or capitalism being in use, where the term corporation carried a regulating terminology and significantly whilst Europe was still dominated by feudalism. Although this impact clusters, two key Smith quotes highlight accelerating socio-technological dynamics, which still dominate executives’ thoughts regarding business models and strategy:

  • The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greatest part of skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is any where directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.”1
  • The establishment of any new manufacture, of any new branch of commerce, or any new practice in agriculture, is always a speculation, from which the projector promises himself extraordinary profits. These profits sometimes are very great, and sometimes, more frequently, perhaps, they are quite otherwise; but in general they bear no regular proportion to those of other older trades in the neighbourhood. If the project succeeds, they are commonly at first very high. When the trade or practice becomes thoroughly established and well known, the competition reduces them to the level of other trades.”2

Just like technology and process splintering into numerous strategies, 20th century analysis has evolved to become more specialised, both towards business, department and workflow areas. Porter argued that profitability in any industry is determined by five forces, including competition among existing players, the threat of new entrants, the power of supplier, the power of customers and the availability of substitute products. A company’s success was not determined by quality, innovation or products but by the logic of its strategy. At the same time organisations are faced with a groundswell of new improvements that raise not only their capacities but also rivals given the reducing time distance between a new innovation being used by earlier adopters and more successful/favoured tools becoming commonplace.Considering Smith’s second quote, it intriguing considering whether Nicholas Carr was blind to this quote when he penned his infamous essay Does IT Matter3, which proposed the decline of competitive advantage that IT provides organisations.

In terms of what is taking place with the massive explosion in volume and interconnectivity of desktop, laptop and mobile communications, organisations are unable to escape these economic laws. Just as the economic moved away as a norm from artisan modes of production and more generalist statuses of professionals to deal with local restrictions of their creation and distribution of activity, we should similarly expect a greater distinction between those who are generalists (who will be in decline as communications volumes increase in scale) and a growing body of actors performing specialised functions (to reflect the productive gains that understanding a craft, complementing it with at hand specialist tools and with a localised understanding of value networks).

For Brad Power, managers must speed the flow of information so that decisions can be made faster at all levels, from top to bottom:

For example, the executive team of Think Finance, a developer of financial products and one of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies, gets together every day to review performance. CEO Ken Rees wrote to me that, “in an environment that’s changing as quickly as ours, there are so many things to be worried about. The daily huddles and daily executive team review of the dashboards help us make sure we are raising and resolving any issues quickly while giving me comfort that everything is going smoothly and that I don’t need to intervene. There are a host of other things that we do with the goal of breaking down hierarchy and improving communication (both up and down) to start to get people used to constant change as a standard practice rather than an upsetting occurrence.”

This would appear to highlight a significant internal organisation social trend that middle managers may be an area of reduced ROI in workplaces in the future. It will be curious to see how such a trend creates differing impacts on already hierarchical and egalitarian framed organisations.

For department roles, aspects that were a source of effort will be replaced by automation. For example, analytics will remove a lot of guesswork and more strategy in marketing. By rewarding curiosity, building confidence, and ensuring accountability, analytics encourages innovation and makes a marketing program more creative and powerful.

If you consider these two traits in terms of the mass volumes, either within countries or between them for both physical and digital goods it increases the risk of failure for organisations irrespective of static successes for business models and/or strategies. Globalisation as a process for creating common worldwide and free market trading conditions represents one of the key features of modern enterprises. New global trading opportunities help drive surges in business model innovation. Today traditional balances between customers and suppliers have altered, following new informational, physical, digital, communal and psychological patterns and lower cost provision of information and customer solutions. Correspondingly business models have recalibrated significantly, with strategy taking new forms to deal with more complex parameters.

A fundamental aspect of these technologies is that it is no longer just the direct stakeholders who have access to significant amounts of data and knowledge, social technologies a democratising. For example, not only did the Democratic and Republican parties invest time and resources in pulling together and analysis data, anybody could with free tools. For businesses, irrespective of motivation, reason or logic certain individuals and groups may very conceivably know more about core or critical aspects of the organisation than its front line staff, managers or executives. For industries where customer relations are important or where feedback could become important there increasingly need to be policies put in place to cover not only specific affairs but provide rules of thumb for unknowns. Potentially worse, the accessibility of technology and app development means that even hobbyists can reverse engineer your processes to provide tools that may undermine your competitive advantage, turning a lost opportunity into a threat. Perhaps this i why Gartner are expecting the biggest Big Data investments to be social network analysis and content analytics, with 45% of new spending each year.

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1An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, 1776, Book I, Chapter I, pg.7

2An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, 1776, Book I, Chapter X, Part I, pg.136

3IT Doesn’t Matter – Nicholas Carr – Harvard Business School – 2003

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More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change also includes:

  1. Introduction
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Re-imagine and Expand
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue

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Other sections of Dialogue, Governance and Reform in the Web 2.0 Age series includes:

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Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

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If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

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