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How to gather data for a business impact analysis

To develop a complete and thorough business impact analysis (BIA), you’ll need to dig deep to gather a lot of information about the many aspects of your business. The best way to do this is by drawing on a variety of resources in a variety of ways. Here are three ways to collect that critical data:

  1. Questionnaires – Questionnaires are useful for soliciting information from many people, and are easy to administer to a lot of people simultaneously. Like all surveys, BIA questionnaires must be carefully designed to ask the right questions and be easily understood, not open to wide variances in interpretation.
  2. One-on-one interviews–These allow you to more actively engage your staff, to probe, and to structure questioning on the fly to get the required information. However, depending on the size of your organization, this method may be overly time-consuming.
  3. Group sessions – Group sessions are an excellent way to actively engage your team and reach consensus on the information you’re gathering. Here are some tips to get the most from your group sessions:
    1. Involve as many people as possible. Get everyone from each department to participate, including every function.
    2. Include both business people and IT people. By working together, IT staff will get a clearer picture of the expectations of their business counterparts, and business people will better understand the capabilities and limitations of their current IT infrastructure.
    3. Keep it short and make it fun. Most group sessions can be accomplished quickly if you keep it fun and focus on what’s most important.
    4. Be consistent. Make the experience common across the organization and give everyone the same frame of reference for future discussion.
    5. Identify processes, not procedures. The BIA is concerned with what your team does (processes), not how they do them (procedures). Keep the discussion focused on processes.