9 Steps for Conducting a Downtime Business Impact Analysis

A computer screen showing the results and graphs from an analysis, such as a downtime impact analysis

June 8, 2017 Disaster Recovery Blog, High Availability Blog Articles

Conducting a structured downtime business impact analysis (BIA) is the foundation you need to understand how exactly downtime will affect your company.


1. Determine your critical business functions

First identify which business operations must keep running, no matter what. This will become the focal point of your company’s availability plan.

For instance, if one application goes down, will it take down others that are depending on it? If one server goes down, will that also render others useless, or make your services unavailable to clients? These questions will show you where to focus your prevention plan to secure these areas 24/7/365.


2. Pinpoint the maximum allowable downtime before affected systems will negatively impact your business

Once you identify which processes are most critical, you can assess how long you can afford to have them offline. Can you get away with a full hour of downtime, or will only 15 minutes be enough to impact your productivity and reputation? Knowing this will help you establish your recovery point objective (RPO) for business continuity (BC).


3. Identify the costs incurred in multiple downtime scenarios

Can you afford an hour of downtime? While Gartner estimates that one hour of downtime costs companies about $42,000, this number can vary greatly depending on whether the downtime is planned or unplanned, and whether or not you have solutions like data replication for high availability (HA) in place.

Knowing the estimated cost for multiple scenarios (such as an outage, natural disaster, or hardware failure) will help you establish your worst case scenario. Then you will know what solutions to choose to focus on prevention.


4. Determine the impact on revenue, productivity and morale

Sometimes downtime might have little apparent effect on revenue, but lost opportunities and lowered employee morale will still have long-term consequences. Once you know which areas will be more heavily impacted, you can better determine these long-term effects, and how to eliminate or mitigate them.


5. Consider both short- and long-term outages

All outages are not created equal. While a fallen power line might be back up in an hour, a flood, failed hardware, or even planned maintenance can take significantly longer. By assessing the impacts of both short- and long-term outages, you can better assess your RPO and RTO for each application and data set.


6. Prioritize recovery speeds

If one server or application goes offline, will it cripple all the rest? For instance, if your inventory server is down, this will inhibit your ability to make sales, regardless of whether or not your sales systems are running as usual.

Rank your business processes. By knowing what is mission-critical, you know what must be  prioritized and restored first.


7. Identify the resources needed to keep your most critical data running

This is especially critical for applications and data which other processes depend on. With options like partial failover, you can even target your resources for when only a subset of critical applications or servers fail.


8. Make alternate plans

If your systems go down, would you set up shop elsewhere? If so, you must have an established connection to that site that is secure and reliable. You should also consider how fast you need your secondary site available, and whether you want it to be a hot, warm, or cold site.

You might have a second server available in-house, but what happens if something affects your entire data center? Make sure you have a plan B in case your plan A doesn’t pan out the way you thought.


9. Determine and implement solutions to minimize the impact of downtime

The more you know about your company’s vulnerabilities, the better you can address them with appropriate solutions.

Are you afraid of losing mission-critical data? If that’s the case, then effective disaster recovery (DR) solutions are the way to go. Will downtime cause you to break regulatory compliance? If so, then implementing high availability data replication will keep your business operations continuous and minimize the threat of compliance-breaking downtime. What about if only one of your applications fails, but the rest are still working? In that case, partial failover could be ideal.

But don’t forget: while these are all complementary solutions, they offer distinct benefits and cannot be used to replace each other.


For help assessing a downtime business impact analysis, contact us today at 317-707-3941.


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