Process activities, methods and techniques
The following sections contain details of each of the stages within the ITSCM lifecycle.
22.214.171.124 Stage 1 – Initiation
The initiation process covers the whole of the organization and consists of the following activities:
126.96.36.199 Stage 2 – Requirements and strategy
Ascertaining the business requirements for IT service continuity is a critical component in order to determine how well an organization will survive a business interruption or disaster and the costs that will be incurred. If the requirements analysis is incorrect, or key information has been missed, this could have serious consequences on the effectiveness of ITSCM mechanisms.
This stage can effectively be split into two sections:
Requirements – Business Impact Analysis
The purpose of a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is to quantify the impact to the business that loss of service would have. This impact could be a ‘hard’ impact that can be precisely identified – such as financial loss – or ‘soft’ impact – such as public relations, moral, health and safety or loss of competitive advantage. The BIA will identify the most important services to the organization and will therefore be a key input to the strategy.
The BIA identifies:
One of the key outputs from a BIA exercise is a graph of the anticipated business impact caused by the loss of a business process or the loss of an IT service over time, as illustrated in Figure 4.22.
Figure 4.22 Graphical representation of business impacts
This graph can then be used to drive the business and IT continuity strategies and plans. More preventative measures need to be adopted with regard to those processes and services with earlier and higher impacts, whereas greater emphasis should be placed on continuity and recovery measures for those where the impact is lower and takes longer to develop. A balanced approach of both measures should be adopted to those in between.
These items provide the drivers for the level of ITSCM mechanisms that need to be considered or deployed. Once presented with these options, the business may decide that lower levels of service or increased delays are more acceptable, based on a cost–benefit analysis, or it maybe that comprehensive disaster prevention measures will need to be implemented.
These assessments enable the mapping of critical service, application and technology components to critical business processes, thus helping to identify the ITSCM elements that need to be provided. The business requirements are ranked and the associated ITSCM elements confirmed and prioritized in terms of risk reduction and recovery planning. The results of the BIA, discussed earlier, are invaluable input to several areas of process design including Service Level Management to understand the required service levels.
Impacts should be measured against particular scenarios for each business process, such as an inability to settle trades in a money market dealing process, or an inability to invoice for a period of days. An example is a money market dealing environment where loss of market data information could mean that the organization starts to lose money immediately as trading cannot continue. In addition, customers may go to another organization, which would mean potential loss of core business. Loss of the settlement system does not prevent trading from taking place, but if trades already conducted cannot be settled within a specified period of time, the organization may be in breach of regulatory rules or settlement periods and suffer fines and damaged reputation. This may actually be a more significant impact than the inability to trade because of an inability to satisfy customer expectations.
It is also important to understand how impacts may change over time. For instance, it may be possible for a business to function without a particular process for a short period of time. In a balanced scenario, impacts to the business will occur and become greater over time. However, not all organizations are affected in this way. In some organizations, impacts are not apparent immediately. At some point, however, for any organization, the impacts will accrue to such a level that the business can no longer operate. ITSCM ensures that contingency options are identified so that the appropriate measure can be applied at the appropriate time to keep business impacts from service disruption to a minimum level.
When conducting a BIA, it is important that senior business area representatives’ views are sought on the impact following loss of service. It is also equally important that the views of supervisory staff and more junior staff are sought to ensure all aspects of the impact following loss of service are ascertained. Often different levels of staff will have different views on the impact, and all will have to be taken into account when producing the overall strategy.
In many organizations it will be impossible, or it will not be cost-justifiable, to recover the total service in a very short timescale. In many cases, business processes can be re-established without a full complement of staff, systems and other facilities, and still maintain an acceptable level of service to clients and customers. The business recovery objectives should therefore be stated in terms of:
It may not always be possible to provide the recovery requirements to a detailed level. There is a need to balance the potential impact against the cost of recovery to ensure that the costs are acceptable. The recovery objectives do, however, provide a starting point from which different business recovery and ITSCM options can be evaluated.
Requirements – Risk Analysis
The second driver in determining ITSCM requirements is the likelihood that a disaster or other serious service disruption will actually occur. This is an assessment of the level of threat and the extent to which an organization is vulnerable to that threat. Risk Analysis can also be used in assessing and reducing the chance of normal operational incidents and is a technique used by Availability Management to ensure the required availability and reliability levels can be maintained. Risk Analysis is also a key aspect of Information Security Management. A diagram on Risk Analysis and Management (Figure 4.20) is contained within the Availability Management process in section 4.4.
A number of Risk Analysis and Management methods are available for both the commercial and government sectors. Risk Analysis is the assessment of the risks that may give rise to service disruption or security violation. Risk management is concerned with identifying appropriate risk responses or cost-justifiable countermeasures to combat those risks.
A standard methodology, such as the Management of Risk (M_o_R), should be used to assess and manage risks within an organization. The M_o_R framework is illustrated in Figure 4.23.
Figure 4.23 Management of Risk
The M_o_R approach is based around the above framework, which consists of the following:
This M_o_R method requires the evaluation of risks and the development of a risk profile, such as the example in Figure 4.24.
Figure 4.24 Example summary risk profile
Figure 4.24 shows an example risk profile, containing many risks that are outside the defined level of ‘acceptable risk’. Following the Risk Analysis it is possible to determine appropriate risk responses or risk reduction measures (ITSCM mechanisms) to manage the risks, i.e. reduce the risk to an acceptable level or mitigate the risk. Wherever possible, appropriate risk responses should be implemented to reduce either the impact or the likelihood, or both, of these risks from manifesting themselves. In the context of ITSCM, there are a number of risks that need to be taken into consideration. The following is not a comprehensive list but does give some examples of risks and threats that need to be addressed by the ITSCM process.
Table 4.1 Examples of risks and threats