Tuesday, September 30, 2014




What is BIA in real words

"BIA" stands for Business Impact Analysis.

BIA sponsor

The BIA sponsor, the person representing Very Senior Management, must be an 800-pound gorilla in the organization, someone preferably part of Very Senior Management and someone with enterprise fiduciary responsibility. The idea person for the job is the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Financial Office, or the Chief Operating Officer. Heads of functional units such as IT, Manufacturing, Marketing/Sales, R&D, and similar units might be viewed as prejudiced toward their own unit's interests. The sponsor must be perceived as an "honest broker."

Purpose of a BIA

This varies by client and practitioner.

To my mind, the BIA should

  1. Identify critical business processes; the reason the organization exists (to make product, to sell services, to provide support to the needy, to govern).
  2. Identify resources required for the critical processes, e.g., HR, IT, Management, Marketing & Sales, Production, R&D, Vendors.
  3. Identify threats to the critical processes, including but not limited to: Clients, Environment, Financial (loss of backing), Human action/inaction, Neighbors, Politics, Regulatory, Stocks and bonds, Technology, Vendors
  4. Summarize the findings for the sponsor and Very Senior Executives

Personally, I like to expand the BIA session to include potential mitigation and avoidance measures.

Since we - all the people involved in the BIA, including the amanuensis and practitioner - already are gathered together and since we are talking about threats, we may as well consider mitigating and avoidance options.

It has been my experience that group dynamics - one person playing off of/adding to another's thoughts benefits everyone.

BIA participants

*  Practitioner

The practitioner or practitioner team leads the BIA. It prepares the program, including the 800-pound gorilla's "welcome." Involve the sponsor at every opportunity to remind everyone that effort is a fiat from On High.

The lead practitioner must have done this before. The practitioner also must be able to recognize when one approach is failing and be agile enough to switch top a new approach. I watched as a seasoned professional bogged down; the script wasn't working for this particular crowd. A less-experienced but more agile practitioner stepped in and, like Mighty Mouse, saved the day.

*  Amanuensis

The amanuensis - look it up, I did - is at least as important as the practitioner.

This person is from the client's staff and knows all (or almost all) of the players in the information gathering exercise.

The amanuensis notes who said what; no one expects this person to record everything word-for-word, but the speaker and the speaker's main point(s) must be noted. (Recording the session is fine, but the amanuensis' notes are guideposts to critical statements, comments.)

*  Functional Unit leaders

Functional unit leaders include managers and their next-in-lines, the people who run the functional unit in the manager's absence. The managers may include as many of their staff as they like; even if they talk among themselves and have a single spokesperson, the unit's concerns will be brought out.

*  Writer

The team needs a wordsmith to prepare a multi-audience document, no easy task. The document must include an Executive Overview, Recommendations, and finally, individual functional unit findings, fully and accurately attributed.

Once the draft document is completed, it is circulated to the functional unit managers for review and comment. Changes will be made.

I recommend sending all functional unit sections to all functional unit managers, the purpose being that "A" may see something "B" mentioned that also concerns "A" and "A" wants a comment added.

BIA outcome

The BIA outcome should give the sponsor and Very Executive Management a firm idea

  1. Of the preparedness of the organization
  2. Of the organization's options to enhance preparedness (recommendations)
  3. What are the next steps in plan development, including:
    • Implementation schedule for approved recommendations
    • Training program
    • Document maintenance

How long

Depending on the size of the organization, the BIA information may be collected in a half day, a full day (with non-working lunch break), or several days.

The documentation and review can take from a week to several months, again, depending on organization size and complexity.

There also is the matter of executive involvement. The sponsor needs to "show the colors" but the Very Senior Executives should hopefully stay in the background until the BIA is presented to them (by the sponsor, with the practitioner{s} at this side to answer any questions).

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