7: Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
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Disasters have a wide variety of effects on an organization that are discussed in this section Many disasters have direct effects, but sometimes it is the secondary effects of a disaster event that are most significant from the perspective of ongoing business operations A risk analysis is a part of the BCP process (discussed in the next section in this chapter) that will identify the ways in which disasters are likely to affect a particular organization It is during the risk analysis when the primary, secondary, and downstream effects of likely disaster scenarios need to be identified and considered Whoever is performing this risk analysis will need to have a broad understanding of the ways in which a disaster will affect ongoing business operations Similarly, those personnel who are developing contingency and recovery plans also need to be familiar with these effects so that those plans will adequately serve the organization s needs Disasters, by our definition, interrupt business operations in some measurable way An event that has the appearance of a disaster may occur, but if it doesn t affect a particular organization, then we would say that no disaster occurred, at least for that particular organization It would be shortsighted to say that a disaster only affects operations Rather, it is appropriate to understand the longer-term effects that a disaster has on the organization s image, brand, and reputation The factors affecting image, brand, and reputation have as much to do with how the organization communicates to its customers, suppliers, and shareholders, as with how the organization actually handles a disaster in progress Some of the ways that a disaster affects an organization s operations include Direct damage Events like earthquakes, floods, and fires directly damage an organization s buildings, equipment, or records The damage may be severe enough that no salvageable items remain, or may be less severe, where some equipment and buildings may be salvageable or repairable Utility outage Even if an organization s buildings and equipment are undamaged, a disaster may affect utilities such as power, natural gas, or water, which can incapacitate some or all business operations Significant delays in refuse collection can result in unsanitary conditions Transportation Similarly, a disaster may damage or render transportation systems such as roads, railroads, shipping, or air transport unusable for a period Damaged transportation systems will interrupt supply lines and personnel Services and supplier shortage Even if a disaster does not have a direct effect on an organization, if any of its critical suppliers feel the effects of a disaster, that can have an undesirable effect on business operations For instance, a regional baker that cannot produce and ship bread to its corporate customers will soon result in sandwich shops without a critical resource Staff availability A communitywide or regional disaster that affects businesses is likely to also affect homes and families Depending upon the nature of a disaster, employees will place a higher priority on the safety and
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comfort of family members Also, workers may not be able or willing to travel to work if transportation systems are affected or if there is a significant materials shortage Employees may also be unwilling to travel to work if they fear for their personal safety or that of their families Customer availability Various types of disasters may force or dissuade customers from traveling to business locations to conduct business Many of the factors that keep employees away may also keep customers away NOTE The kinds of secondary and tertiary effects that a disaster has on a particular organization depend entirely upon its unique set of circumstances that constitute its specific critical needs A risk analysis should be performed to identify these specific factors
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