“You start with the lines of business the company defines as where their core products and core revenue are coming from,” SunGard’s Grogan says. “Then you dive under the covers. What are your salespeople doing to generate the sales cycle? What are your accounting people doing to get the bills out? What are your distribution or production people doing to create the product and get it shipped?” Some of these pieces may be internal and some external. “Many companies outsource their shipping and distribution to UPS or FedEx, but that process is key to their customer satisfaction.”
Who should be involved? “Usually it’s not the line-of-business executive, it’s more like someone at the manager or director level,” IBM’s Walch says. “Someone who inherently understands the process and can help you walk through claims processing, drilling, or exploration.”
But Unisys’ Dillman disagrees. “We like to start with the executives because ultimately it comes down to what goals you’re trying to achieve in a degrading situation and how much you’re willing to spend.”
Mapping interdependencies among processes, departments, employees, and external players is the overarching goal of the business continuity planning process. This is where diagramming software, such as Microsoft Visio, can help. SunGard has a software product called Paragon that provides tools to guide companies along the entire business continuity planning process, and it includes diagramming software that can map interdependencies. “People may not understand initially a dependency between customer service and product development or how much order entry does or doesn’t depend on finance,” says Jacques Murphy, SunGard’s Paragon product manager.
Finding these dependencies requires a lot of discussion, collaboration among people with different functions, and input from an IT expert who understands the underlying systems. “An oil exec may say that it’s really critical that we have this data warehouse up because we can’t analyze exploration areas without it,” Walch says. “Someone from IT can then say, ‘Well, it’s the systems that feed the data warehouse and the process control mechanisms that are really critical here.’ ”
It’s also important to clarify business process goals. If the help desk’s goal is to ensure that no client is on hold for more than 30 seconds, then it’s important to look very closely at the phone system and redundant routing to various switch stations, says Tim Leech, principal consultant and chief methodology officer at Paisley Consulting.
Often it’s best to prepare business unit reps by distributing a survey or questionnaire before the workshop to get the thinking going. “We gave the business unit people information and questionnaires to answer in advance and then got together in a workshop approach with a team from SunGard to do the workshops and data collection,” TV Guide’s Sullivan says.