Business impact analysis tools available to help companies

Pierre Dorion highlights some of the business impact analysis tools available to help companies in this Expert Response.

Are there tools that can help you conduct a BIA?

A number of tools are available to assist companies with the execution of a business impact analysis. These BIA tools can be as basic as a combination of survey documents and a spreadsheet matrix that are used to collect information and rank applications and business functions based on priority.

Some software products also are available -- SunGard Data Systems Inc.'s Living Disaster Recovery Planning System, Coop Systems Inc.'s myCOOP and eBRP Solutions Network Inc.'s BIA tools -- that can greatly simplify the execution and maintenance of a BIA. Smaller companies that conduct their own BIAs tend to prefer the survey and spreadsheet model primarily for budgetary reasons, but also because the size of their business environment typically makes the BIA process less effort-intensive.

Larger organizations, however, tend to have a greater number of business processes and applications with many interdependencies, which make the spreadsheet model impractical. These companies often opt for a software tool to assist with the BIA. The strength of software tools is their ability to combine the risk, impact, criticality and dependency of the information entered and to automate the priority grouping and interdependency mapping of business processes and applications.

Software tools also enable quick updates without it being necessary to re-compile priority and criticality of all processes and applications manually. This makes the BIA process much less error-prone. It must be noted, however, that software tools will not evaluate threats, exposures, maximum outage or losses automatically if they don't have the initial information that the team conducting the BIA must supply.

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