Today more than ever, IT Continuity should be a key business focus for any organisation to protect its data, infrastructure and the overall business.
IT continuity planning is the process of committing resources, developing policies, procedures, and tools, and setting the IT infrastructure to maintain critical business processes. A subset of Business Continuity Planning (BCP), IT continuity plans are critical to an organisation’s ability to sustain operations during a business disruption, which could be anything from a power outage to a natural disaster.
Regardless of the cause, the consequences of a large scale IT failure can resonate long after the incident. It may only take one downtime event to significantly affect the profitability – and viability – of an organisation.
Why then, when IT continuity plans promise to keep the business running at peak efficiency at all times, do so many IT managers struggle to get them cross the line?
Not Buying In
Management commitment is the first and most important requirement for a sustainable IT continuity plan. You’d think this would be an easy sell, but it’s where most Technology leaders are stopped in their tracks.
Most leaders understand the need for business continuity, but not all have reached a level of concern sufficient to ensure reliable IT security and data protection. Some fail to recognise that IT continuity is a piece of the overarching business continuity plan, and therefore needs to be aligned with corporate objectives and strategies.
In fact, IT’s role in business continuity is only getting bigger. With mission-critical functions increasingly reliant on technology, it’s more important than ever for leaders to care about their data integrity. And communication needs to go both ways, as IT must have an understanding the critical business functions to determine how to recover IT systems in the event of a significant business disruption.
In business, disasters happen — and more often than not they come down to human error. By enlisting IT’s help to establish off-site backups, implement cloud services, and install virtual servers, leaders can disaster-proof their organisations to ensure business continuity.
Getting the Boss on Board
So, how do you put IT continuity on the agenda of executive management and make your value in this space known?
Sometimes the only way to convince the big bosses that IT continuity is worth buying into is by demonstrating the impact a disruptive event would have on business processes should there not be a strategy in place. This is where the Business Impact Analysis comes in.
A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) identifies the business processes that are critical to the organisation’s ongoing success, and the impact of disruption to those processes. It allows the executive management team to see the number and complexity of systems in play, and to have a much deeper understanding of the criticality of IT in enabling the business to function. This is a valuable outcome, both for the IT team and the rest of the business, as it makes it more likely that IT will become an integral part of strategic business planning.
The best thing about the BIA is that there’s no mention of technology until the final pulling together of the outputs and mapping them to IT systems. A conversation that can be carried out in the ‘business’ language will not only earn you respect from leaders, but it guarantees you’ll be included in future discussions about business continuity – and potentially much more.
A New Look for IT
It is the IT manager’s job to provide the technology that enables the business to function optimally, but this requires planning, regardless of how simple or complex the IT environment is. If senior leadership is preventing you from doing so, your best move is to request a Business Impact Analysis (BIA).
A BIA is an essential component of an organisation's business continuity plan, and for IT it has the benefit of demonstrating to leaders how the critical business functions tie to specific technology systems. Not only does this ensure top level endorsement for IT continuity plans, but it establishes IT – in the bosses’ eyes – as a critical enabler of the business.
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