How to Conduct a Business Impact Analysis

Keep reading to understand the importance of business impact analysis and how and when to conduct one.
Media - Anthony Gagliardi

by Tony Gagliardi

December 08, 2022
How to Conduct a Business Impact Analysis

Every organization has to deal with change and shifting priorities. The way they choose to navigate as their industry evolves and new initiatives arise makes all the difference. If they aren’t aware of how transformation can impact them, disaster can strike. Research shows that one in eight businesses are destroyed by data breaches and 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack. So how can companies confidently move forward with something new? In this post, we’ll explore the importance of business impact analysis and how to make this part of the planning process in your organization. 

What is a Business Impact Analysis and Who Uses It?

The business impact analysis (BIA) helps you predict and measure the potential effects of a proposed action, new enterprise project, or loss of key services and systems. 

Business impact analysis is used by decision-makers who need better insight into the likely outcomes of their decisions, so they can make more informed choices about how to proceed. As such, BIAs are often conducted at strategic stages where significant change is planned or at regular intervals.

The business impact analysis report will include an executive summary, the methodology behind the information-gathering process, findings on the various business units, as well as potential risks and strategies for recovery. 

When Should You Conduct a Business Impact Analysis?

There are several situations in which a business impact analysis should be performed. The primary point to consider is how frequently your organization needs to deal with change. This is a point-in-time analysis, so the interval you choose will be highly dependent on the conditions of your organization. For example, a shorter interval will bring more valuable insights but require more resources to conduct the analysis. With that being said, in an age when technology is always evolving, business impact analysis has become increasingly important. If doing a BIA is not a regular occurrence in your organization, consider reviewing your processes and how you may benefit from increasing frequency. 

What Should One Ask During a Business Impact Analysis?

To do an effective business impact analysis, there are four stages. First, determining scope. Then, gathering and analyzing information. After you complete those steps, you put the results in a written report. One of the most critical parts of the gathering information stage is asking the right questions. When conducting a business impact analysis, you should ask yourself the following:

  • What problem are we trying to solve?

  • What are the goals of this project or initiative?

  • What is the current state of affairs and how can this initiative change them?

  • What risks and opportunities do we see in the future? 

  • How would the loss of this service or business function impact our revenue stream? 

  • What is our recovery point objective (aka the maximum acceptable amount of data loss after an unexpected disaster event)?

Once you have a good sense of what's happening, consider constraints that may be unique to your organization. Examples include your budget or a specific timeline you may need to contend with to meet your goals. 

Who Should Be Involved in the Process?

The process should be open to all stakeholders and be inclusive for all of those with a vested interest in the work. For example, IT leadership should be included when conducting BIAs on IT owned processes or systems. 

When conducting an analysis, it's essential to include a diverse group of people affected by the change or process of services. This ensures you'll get a wide range of perspectives and understandings about how the change or loss of services will impact different teams and individuals. Specifically, this may include department managers, compliance professionals, and IT leaders. 

Where Should the Insights Go?

Once you have completed the analysis, the findings should be stored in a central location. You can use a Word or Google Doc to create your business impact analysis document and make it visible to all stakeholders. It's also vital that the document be updated at the established interval so you keep track of what has been done and where new opportunities are emerging. Every time you complete a new business impact analysis, update the document and notify everyone who has access. 

BIA identifies critical business functions, determines the risks associated with them, and the consequences of not addressing those risks. BIAs also help you prioritize where to focus recovery efforts in the event that several major business functions are disrupted. 

For those reasons, a BIA can serve as the foundation for compliance and disaster recovery processes. As you complete your analysis you may discover compliance requirements for your industry or security frameworks that are in your best interest to follow. Since BIAs are also something organizations take on frequently, as technology changes or new information becomes available, you can continue to revisit what your organization is facing. This keeps threats and business continuity top of mind. 

Connecting the Dots Between BIA and Risk

Gaining insight into what’s next for your business plays a role in organizational accountability and reduces the risks that can impact your security, reputation, and financial health. Our platform can help along this journey by making it possible to achieve and maintain compliance faster. Want to see what Drata can do for you? Book some time to learn more about our solutions and how to get started.

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Media - Anthony Gagliardi
Tony Gagliardi
Tony Gagliardi's area of expertise focuses on on building sound cybersecurity risk management programs that meet security compliance requirements. Tony is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) specializing in GRC, SOC 2, ISO 27001, GDPR, CCPA/CPRA, HIPAA, various NIST frameworks and enterprise risk management.
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