Business continuity (BC) projects have recently become more likely to be considered components of enterprise corporate governance strategy. Managing a company's risk exposure to business interruptions and keeping business operations running at acceptable levels under duress is a critical component of overall corporate strategy. BC dashboards are the latest class of business intelligence (BI) applications, as senior management desires more transparency - both proactive and reactive - into their organization's crisis management infrastructure and methodologies. "The business need for BC dashboards becomes more apparent every day - across all industries. Early adoptors of BC dashboards have reaped measurable competitive advantage by being able to better control multiple categories of risk from one dedicated physical location and logical perspective," says Cris Solomon, a San Francisco Bay-area senior consultant in business continuity.
Many corporate data supply chains have become more mature in terms of integrity and distribution; however, not enough attention is paid to BC in associated service level agreements. As supply chains have lengthened, sophisticated new architectures and technologies have not necessarily meant better risk mitigation and reduced exposure to serious outages in continuity. System and process dependencies continue to become more tangled and less centralized despite innovations in the service-oriented delivery of information. In addition, cutting-edge technical solutions have resulted in a reshuffling of accountability and responsibility so that business impact assessment (BIA) remains a difficult chore. Data supply chains are complicated and can be composed of any number of entities - classified as systems, facilities, applications, people, vendors or hardware. All dependencies in the data supply chain must be understood if one is to get to a place where quality BIA can be conducted in order to gauge and assess a company's readiness and risk of disaster. All along the supply chain are points of hand off or collaboration that require service agreements for capacity, timeliness, integrity and beyond. Such characteristics of system and data flow need to, at a minimum, be codified and saved as metadata or, better still, be reflected in a rules engine or mapping tool that will be able to reproduce all dependencies and interrelationships as both relational content and graphical flows. Eventually, this information will be used to seed the BC dashboard as well. An enormous amount of data - coming from disparate enterprise silos - about system and business entities/assets will have to be merged with BC-specific facts such as recovery time objective and recovery point objective in order to get a picture of BC resilience in all of its flavors. (Note that because BC resilience is somewhat difficult to measure in pure data terms, creative key performance indicators [KPIs] will need to be brainstormed and incorporated into the dashboard.) Once an enterprise system discovery has been completed, not only will it be easier to support business continuity policy, future data integration projects will become more streamlined and controlled because all interdependencies will be mapped and thus better poised to drive and adapt to business and system changes.
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