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ITIL :: View topic - Business Continuity vs. Service Continuity
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Business Continuity vs. Service Continuity

 
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RT
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Joined: Jan 26, 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 7:39 am    Post subject: Business Continuity vs. Service Continuity Reply with quote

I attended a Business Continuity seminar promoting the benefits of BS25999. During the event I had the opportunity to ask one of the presenters "if your business is the delivery of IT services, and each of your services are covered by Service Continuity plans, is there any real difference between Business Continuity and Service Continuity?" The answer I received that day was "probably not".

However, taking that approach back to the business, I've been swamped with people desperate to define boundaries and definitions of Business Continuity and Service Continuity and why we need them both, but seemingly only to push responsibility 'over the fence' to someone else, "I only need to cover Service Continuity. That's clearly a Business Continuity issue."

Apart from dealing with some poor attitudes, do you think it's essential to have both, or can you just do 'Continuity' regardless of the angle you approach it from (where the business is about delivering IT services)?
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Diarmid
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RT,

taking a quick glance at the description of BS25999, I would think that Business Continuity is much more overarching than Service Continuity.

In your case, you deliver IT services and therefore have Service Continuity plans etc. However, these are contingency against damage to services and this damage may not even emanate from your business.

I would suggest that for you business Continuity is about the infrastructure of your business and that Service Continuity is about delivery to your customers. This Service Continuity is more related to your customers' Business Continuity than to your own. Nevertheless you business has an interest in the ongoing viability of your customers' business as the alternative is the costly exercise of finding new replacement customers.
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RT
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Business Continuity is more wide ranging than IT Service Continuity, it's even defined as such, "IT Service Continuity Management forms an integral part of the Business Continuity Management process to ensure that IT Services and facilities can be provided."

But I think that the scope is going to get very close if your business is dependant on delivering IT services. And the only differentiator on what's more important is which came 'first'.

For example, in analysing our IT Services, the only parts of the business that weren't directly identified in supporting some part of those services were HR, parts of Finance and Quality Management. So if we do Service Continuity first, most things are covered by Service Continuity plans. And then we can add Business Continuity plans to cover those three other sections (if we intepret them as being critical to the business) and we need/want to.

However another approach would be to Business Continuity first. So you look at the key functions of the business, which in this case is delivering IT services, and you create a Business Continuity Plan that covers most areas, but omit a couple of service items as they only support minority services which aren't business critical. Then later you need to cover those additional items, so create Service Continuity plans to cover those.

Via either route you're then providing the full coverage required by your organisation. So my point is (if I still have one; this has become very rambly), what has been gained by splitting the definitions? It seems to me that Continuity Management is the important thing here, and the way each plan is labelled is irrelevant. So for an organisation like ours, we should just have a Continuity Manager who is responsible for it all, and not create artificial boundaries of responsibility, unless I'm missing something.
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Diarmid
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RT,

I think you are misinterpreting the statement.

What I believe it means in your context is:

IT Service Continuity Management forms an integral part of the Customers' Business Continuity Management process to ensure that IT Services and facilities can be provided."

Your Business Continuity requirement is a separate thing altogether. I would have thought it would also include sales and marketing, property and assets as a minimum.

One of the things that you need to distinguish (if it applies) is your provision of internal IT services as distinct from your provision of IT services to your customers.

The purpose of Service Continuity is to keep supporting the business to which you deliver the service, but the purpose of Business Continuity is to stay in business. Thus Business Continuity will require a level of Service Continuity for every service.

If you start with this perception it becomes possible to assess appropriately what to invest and where to invest it to assure the required levels of continuity at acceptable risk and how to optimally plan disaster recovery.

It also follows that Business Continuity has a higher governance requirement than the IT department, regardless it is the core function of the business or not.
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"Method goes far to prevent trouble in business: for it makes the task easy, hinders confusion, saves abundance of time, and instructs those that have business depending, both what to do and what to hope."
William Penn 1644-1718
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RT
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Joined: Jan 26, 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Diarmid wrote:
One of the things that you need to distinguish (if it applies) is your provision of internal IT services as distinct from your provision of IT services to your customers. The purpose of Service Continuity is to keep supporting the business to which you deliver the service, but the purpose of Business Continuity is to stay in business. Thus Business Continuity will require a level of Service Continuity for every service.

I think this is an excellent point, as they are two quite distinct requirements which I've been tarring with the same brush.

Would it be fair to say that when I'm thinking of being able to sustain a continuous level of service to our customers, then I should be thinking of this as a Business Continuity objective (of which the continuity of IT services is just one section) rather than a Service Continuity objective?
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Diarmid
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RT wrote:
Would it be fair to say that when I'm thinking of being able to sustain a continuous level of service to our customers, then I should be thinking of this as a Business Continuity objective (of which the continuity of IT services is just one section) rather than a Service Continuity objective?


I think you are in danger of focussing too much on definitions here. "[A] continuous level of service to our customers" is Service Continuity, probably contractually required.

What role, large or small, that plays in their Business Continuity is something for them, not you, to determine.

If you do want to use your definition then I would suggest "objective" should be "requirement".
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"Method goes far to prevent trouble in business: for it makes the task easy, hinders confusion, saves abundance of time, and instructs those that have business depending, both what to do and what to hope."
William Penn 1644-1718
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RT
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Joined: Jan 26, 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Diarmid wrote:
I think you are in danger of focussing too much on definitions here. "[A] continuous level of service to our customers" is Service Continuity, probably contractually required.

Laughing Well, I certainly think that's true. I've devoted more time to getting my head around this topic than I'd care to admit, and yet I still feel somewhat uncomfortable about being able to differentiate the two (which is what led to me drawing my original conclusion; that there's no real reason to differentiate).

I can clearly see that if our main building is destroyed by fire, and therefore our Sales, Finance and HR departments have no home, then this is a Business Continuity issue, as there's no reason the services our customers are experiencing should be affected. So we can have a Business Continuity plan for what happens if that building is inaccessible.

But if our service desk and customer support teams are also in that building (which therefore prevents our customers accessing the support services they are paying for), and therefore covered by the same continuity plan, does that make it both a Service Continuity and Business Continuity issue? Or should the service-related elements specifically not be covered by the Business Continuity plan so that they can be covered by a Service Continuity plan and acted on separately?

I feel like I'm over-thinking all this Confused
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Diarmid
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What you are talking about is overlap. but they remain different subjects. The level of protection and contingency you need to remain in business is not necessarily the same as the levels required of you by your customers. (paying a penalty or losing a single customer is a business option, albeit unpleasant and in extremis.) Therefore both have to be considered and you have to ensure that they are met.

Now, having got that far, you may well find that 95% of your response to one satisfies the other and therefore they seem like very much the same thing. but the two perspectives remain and both or either will change in the future.
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"Method goes far to prevent trouble in business: for it makes the task easy, hinders confusion, saves abundance of time, and instructs those that have business depending, both what to do and what to hope."
William Penn 1644-1718
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