Four Ways to Enhance Your BIAs

Posted on: January 31, 2023
Author: Madison Littin

Agave PlantBusiness impact analyses (or “BIAs” for short) are a fundamental part of any organization’s business continuity and resilience programs. These assessments analyze business processes and the effect that a business disruption may have on them. Business continuity practitioners usually have strong opinions on them – some freeze up at the very thought of performing them, some enjoy them, and some grudgingly update them yearly. Regardless of how your team approaches BIAs, fundamentally improving how they are done makes the process of performing them easier for everyone. Let’s look at the four ways that you can enhance your business impact analyses.

Build a Reputation/Engage Your Process Owners

For a busy practitioner, there may not be a lot of time spent on interactions with interviewees (or “business process owners” or “end users”) outside of the BIAs. Maybe it’s because they are only annual, or “quick”, or there isn’t time to educate or train employees on your business continuity program. However, this approach can lead to issues with engagement and cause confusion once the BIA cycle rolls around. A business process owner might think: “Who is this person reaching out to me? They want me to do what? Why is this important?” – among other things.

This may not be feasible at large companies, but practitioners in smaller organizations should consider being more engaged with their interviewees. Building a little bit of a reputation with the processes owners before the BIA can go a long way. Depending on the size of your organization though, different tactics may work more effectively.

Some suggestions include:

  1. Create a short training webinar or demo that explains key ideas, like what a BIA is and how it is useful for the company. This type of resource can be provided annually before the BIA cycle kicks off and can help refresh a process owner’s mind or prepare a new person on what to expect. This tactic has proven to be especially effective for larger organizations.
  2. Similar to the above, engage processes owners well before the BIA cycle kicks off. Send a kick-off email introducing yourself and schedule the interviews well in advance.
  3. Use one business continuity practitioner as the point of contact for interviewees before, during, and after the BIA. For example, the process owner in charge of payroll will be more willing to listen and engage if they know who David J. is and have been speaking to him throughout the whole process. If they were speaking to, say, Susan, Bob, Jason, and David all at different times during the BIA cycle, it may make them more frustrated and less forthcoming.

Simplify End User Accessibility

Some business continuity practitioners walk through the BIAs together with the interviewees, while others may take a more hands-off approach and have the process owner complete the assessment on their own. Regardless of the approach that your organization takes, it’s important to make the BIA process as easy to understand as possible for the end user. Since many BIAs are annual, it can be frustrating for end users to remember exactly what to do each time.

To reduce the time spent on troubleshooting and avoid a barrage of emails regarding login, access, questions about the analysis, and more, it’s important to create the BIA with not only your needs in mind, but the interviewee’s as well.

Some suggestions include:

  1. If the business process owner is expected to complete the BIA on their own, consider creating an in-depth walkthrough video that is embedded in the analysis itself. This video should showcase navigation of the BIA, explain concepts and questions being asked, and allow the process owner to follow along with ease.
  2. Add help text to the questions and fields. This can help clarify what is being asked and limit the number of back-and-forth emails from end users looking for assistance. This help text can also include specifics on how the person should respond – for example, are you looking for a specific date format or phone number format? Should they put the number itself or type out the word for it?
  3. Streamline the appearance of the BIA and make it both aesthetically appealing and functional. If you have fields that are out of order or that jump from one section to the next, it will make it difficult for the end user to follow along. A great solution to this is the Guided Workflow package within the Fusion Framework® System™. It creates a path-like page that separates activities into different tabs and provides a clean interface for the end user.

Capture Useful Data

Business continuity professionals love data, but it’s important to collect useful data and not just data for the sake of it. Improving the data capture in your BIA is not only beneficial to you, but also to the end users providing the data. A business process owner will be much more open to completing a 30-minute BIA that doesn’t beat around the bush versus a multi-tab Excel file BIA that could take them a few hours.

Some suggestions include:

  1. Review the questions asked in past BIAs and see what data you collected but never used. For example, if every year you ask for details regarding the number of employees in a department and the number trained on certain tasks, but you don’t do anything with the information, then why keep asking it? Pare down what you can to streamline the BIA.
  2. Determine if the data you are collecting is being captured in the best way possible. Sit back and review each question in the BIA and ask: Should this be a different type of field? Does this question make more sense as a picklist or an open text area?

Implement Automation

Automation can be a very useful tool for business continuity practitioners to make their BIAs faster, easier, and more acceptable. Not everything can, or should, be automated – so it’s crucial to review your current BIA lifecycle and take note of what can be improved. The Fusion Framework System is an excellent resource for automating different parts of the BIAs.

Some suggestions include:

  1. Automate how and when BIAs get sent out to business process owners. You can set a particular date for some or all of your processes, and on that date, the owners will receive an automated email telling them that it’s time to complete the BIA.
  2. If you utilize an approval process or some other kind of review for completed BIAs, you can automate this as well. Once the BIA is completed, the approver can be automatically notified that they need to go into the system to review it. This helps cut down on the manual emails that you need to send out as well as reduces the amount of approval tracking from your end.
  3. Create automated email alerts for people who haven’t completed their BIAs yet. For example, emails can be sent 15 days, 5 days, and 1 day before the BIA is due, which can greatly reduce the amount of manual busy work involved in BIA tracking.

Enhancing the BIA Lifecycle

Business impact analyses can seem overwhelming and tedious – but they don’t have to be. Sure, there will always be parts that have to be done manually or that may take time to complete, but there are also many ways to improve the BIA lifecycle. While there are several examples above to help get you started, there are certainly more tailored approaches based on your program.

To learn more about how Fusion can help improve your BIA process, contact your Account Manager or request a demo today!