Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is a topic of growing importance for enterprise architects, but many organizations do not pursue best practices and fail to realize the most value from their efforts. When facing the loss of critical business operations, or facing a disaster recovery process, a BIA report can be a massive help. While there are extensive guides available, it’s not always going to be convenient to dive into dozens of pages for some simple guidance. With that in mind, we’ve put together this short list of impact analysis steps to provide a quick start whenever you need it.
1. What is the aim of the analysis?
A step that should really be the standard for every single initiative a firm undertakes; What are you aiming to achieve? Before you conduct a BIA, you'll need to answer this question.
Business Impact Analysis can apply to many different aspects of an organization, and trying to do everything at once is just going to lead to waste. Establishing a scope before starting will help to keep the process under control and within acceptable limits
2. Know your parameters
What impacts are you actually looking to measure? The majority of businesses will want to know about their finances, of course, but an effective analysis will usually look at several other areas as well. For example, Gartner recommends 5 main impact areas to examine: Financial, Reputation, Regulatory and social, Production output, and Environmental.
Those 5 can cover a lot of cases, but won’t be suited to every organization or BIA. Certain industries or types of business will have different requirements, while more focused, single issue impact analyses may not need to worry about certain impacts. Orbus have found that Technology-Business Impact Analysis is a particular focus, and in such an example you would not need to worry about environmental impacts, while regulatory or reputational impacts may not be relevant.
3. Data, data, data
A BIA needs information to produce effective results. This is an obvious statement to make for any analysis, but the challenge for BIA is the nature of the data required: highly subjective and dependent on relevant stakeholders. There can be a wide range of business activities to investigate.
An enterprise architect will not be able to complete a valid BIA without extensive input from the people involved in day to day operations, usually in the form of questionnaires or interviews. This is the core of the BIA process, though there will still be a lot of data analysis following the collection.
4. Align to the organization
A major challenge for enterprise architects is demonstrating the value of a business impact analysis. Business leaders can dismiss the value of a BIA as outcomes may be unclear and poorly linked to strategic objectives.
Without buy-in from business leaders, conducting an impact analysis will become much more difficult. Not only will enterprise architects face being placed on other tasks, but the aforementioned data collection issues could become more challenging. By ensuring that the approach and scope of a BIA matches with the goals of an organization, teams can gain executive sign-off and avoid problems like this.
5. Communicate to stakeholders
Given the need to bring business leaders onboard, and to collect data from stakeholders within the organization, it goes without saying that a BIA team will need to place emphasis on communication. But it’s not just initial and in-progress communication that matters, but the final presentation and reporting as well.
Since the results of a business impact analysis can be opaque and difficult for stakeholders, architects need to make sure they clearly deliver insights to address business questions, and establish a proper architectural roadmap that can produce business outcomes.
Conducting a Business Impact Analysis is not a small or simple task, but by using these core steps as a starting point, you won’t go wrong. Of course, if you really want to succeed then using an award-winning enterprise architecture tool like iServer is your best bet, and you can even book a demo right now.
If you’re not ready to take the plunge, then there’s still a wide range of additional resources to help develop your enterprise architecture, like our “Five Steps to Designing a Fully Optimized Enterprise Architecture” e-book.