Afterwards depending on abilities of IT Team Project Management on fulfilling of demanded project the quality of the project deliverables varies. After all there will be an IT Service and its business customers. Suppose that IT Team does its job in a way that it provides the demanded service- say organization paperless portal – with 97 % availability and also this is acceptable for the business too.
97 % availability means 262.8 downtime hours a year or 5.4 hours downtime a weak. As stated previously 5 hours per week downtime has been accepted by the business but is there any plan for IT disaster times?
What will happen if by an unknown root cause or for a major change or annual infrastructure overhaul Portal service stops for more than 3 days? Should the Portal customers wait until it is up again or is there any alternative? In other words is there any Backup Solution?
Let me elaborate this in a real story.
Lately there was a major upgrade for ERP system in our Enterprise. A month earlier ERP department made announcement regarding ERP outage for five days in a certain date due to this upgrade. It is quite obvious that all business functions which were bind to ERP would stop. A day or two later an Announcement from one of the departments issued to all employees. Here is the portion of this announcement:
Please be informed that due to ERP outage General Warehouse will not be able to deliver any material to customers from 27th OCT to 31st OCT. So you are kindly requested to issue your request before this time to this department.”
Clearly this is not the way of handling customers’ requests when the primary system is down. For some business functions using an automatic solution is only for better speed and accuracy in the quality of job being done and other factors like security and integrity sit in a lower priority. For these functions definitely using another solution temporarily instead of automated one for a short time can keep the process going. In many times after main system is up there will be some paper sheets and forms that keep the record of transactions and they should be put into the system electronically.
Additionally there will be some effective factors that can help business in order to institutionalize the culture of using backup Solution:
Surely Management awareness can play an important role in these conditions. Management always should rise this question that how a business process can continue to work when automation systems are down. In the response a methodology will be defined and related workflows will be implemented. This can give this assurance to business that at least those business processes that can continue to work manually will not be stopped in system down times.
If an organization has a PMO (Project Management Office) or certain positions in IT Department for project management or if certain methodologies has been established for project management, taking IT disasters into consideration for project deliverables in project plans can lead the project management team to always think about backup solution and develop required workflows, forms or documents in order to achieve that.
IT Governance can also play a very important role in reaching to a well established supportive IT based backup solution. For example for a Time and Attendance system if T&A clocking device is not working a simple excel file which is designed to capture IN/OUT data while the system is down can work out (just think of manually importing captured data to the database)
Training service stakeholders and end users on how to manage their jobs at disaster times and practice pre defined scenarios in the form of certain maneuvers can also be helpful.
Beside above mentioned ideas surely there are other approaches that can help an Enterprise to continue its business or some of its business processes when their supportive IT systems are not operable for a period of time. A Manager, Leader or any decision maker in the organization or IT department can always be creative about how to minimum or dump the effective of IT disaster on its business.