National Financial Services Firm
When a national financial services company, headquartered in Los Angeles, needed integrated Business Continuity and IT Disaster Recovery Plans to protect the business and to address commitments that had been made in previous federal audits, they realized that they were ill-prepared internally to effectively execute such a project. A previously attempted initiative to produce the plans was not successful, and time was running out on the audit response. RES-Q™ Services was selected to provide the required assistance.
The company had recently acquired another financial services company of comparable size, and that company did not have Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery Plans in place either. Furthermore, the acquisition expanded the company’s merged physical footprint from three facilities to a new total of seven, plus two separate data centers. At the time of project launch, the operational units of the two companies had not yet been integrated, nor had any organizational charts and reporting relationships been established. Yet the deadline was approaching.
Challenges were many. First, there was a need to identify the best organizational alignment available to identify the business functions which were to be included in a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). The BIA was essential to establish recovery requirements for the business units and the IT applications they required. Second, there was a need to identify all applications hosted in each data center, along with requirements for recovering each IT environment. Then, an organizational structure had to be determined so Business Continuity Plans could be produced for departments in each facility, as well as a Disaster Recovery Plan for each data center. Each of these plans had to be complete and accurate so the company could rely upon them to faithfully guide their response to a business interruption at any of their offices. Finally, training in use of the plans had to be completed to comply with the audit requirements. All of this had to be accomplished within very tight time constraints.
RES-Q™ Services consultants worked with the client to develop a very tight project schedule, which could also be flexible due to the fluid state of the organizational alignment that was slowly progressing. The companies were considered separate for project purposes initially, and a BIA was conducted for all business functions in each company. Data collected from common functions was later consolidated into a final comprehensive assessment. This assessment established business recovery requirements for staffing and applications for each facility, and recovery strategies were identified accordingly.
As this process was being performed, the executive leadership of the new company was finalizing the new organizational alignment. The new organization chart resulting from that effort was used to produce Business Continuity Plans for each facility. Data gathered from the recovery requirements was purified based on the new organization charts as that information became clear.
A similar approach was utilized for producing IT Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP). The two data centers were treated separately as applications and associated IT technical environments were analyzed. Recovery strategies were identified for each center, which became the basis for production of a DRP for each.
Partitioning the project as described, coupled with the RES-Q™ Services consultants’ experience in performing many projects in similar stressful situations, RES-Q™ met the deadline with favorable audit responses.
Most importantly, in the event of a disaster significantly affecting one of its facilities, this company now has the capability to recover its operations, protect their prestigious brand, and assure that its clients can continue to receive vital and timely financial services.
National Medical Supply and Services Firm Success Story
When a premier medical supplies and services company, headquartered in Atlanta, needed assistance in evaluating and selecting IT Disaster Recovery solutions to protect the business and to address contractual commitments made to its hospital clients, they realized that they were ill prepared internally to effectively execute such a project. A previously internal project to produce the desired information and lead to a consensus decision was not successful and time was running out on responding to an audit finding. RES-Q™ Services was selected to provide the required assistance.
The company had previously received a less than satisfactory audit finding for not having an IT Disaster Recovery capability. Further, a follow up audit was pending, and the company management knew this would be a major factor affecting the outcome of that audit. Failure to successfully pass that audit was expected to result in loss of some major governmental contracts, plus jeopardize other contracts.
The IT staff had initiated a project to examine potential recovery options that could be implemented and tested prior to the next year’s audit. The result of that project was to move to a cloud-based or third-party provider solution (AWS, SunGard, etc.) for its Production Data Center (PDC) and to establish a similar strategy for its Recovery Data Center (RDC). That project was not successful as there was insufficient time to complete the project, so consensus and funding could not be obtained. The company then initiated a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) to better understand their IT recovery requirements, and that BIA did produce a target Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) for each application. The BIA also identified the most critical applications, so the company decided to focus on those applications as a first step.
Challenges were many, but two were of primary concern. First, the follow up audit was less than eight months away, so there was limited time to select a recovery strategy. Another project would follow to implement the selected solution and perform required testing. Second, the IT staff was already highly engaged in other major projects, leaving very limited capacity to take on this new project. Corus360 was selected to step into this breach and complete the project within the allotted time.
RES-Q™ Services consultants worked with the client to develop a very tight project schedule, which could also be flexible due to the fluid state of other IT related projects. Results of the BIA were used to prioritize the applications into tiers for further study, and the Tier 0 and Tier 1 applications became the project’s focus. Next, these applications were mapped to supporting servers to construct a minimum equipment configuration for further study.
Potential recovery options were identified that would meet requirements, the basic design was finalized, high level costs were determined, results were then presented to senior management for a decision. A hybrid solution was selected that utilized both a dedicated and shared infrastructure provided by a third-party vendor. This solution proved to be much more cost effective than the cloud-based solution that has been considered initially, while also not disrupting the IT staff by requiring conversion of the PDC to a new infrastructure.
Partitioning the two projects as described, coupled with the RES-Q™ Services consultants’ experience in performing many projects in similar stressful situations, met the deadline to demonstrate recovery capability with favorable audit results.
Most importantly, this company now has the capability to recover its critical applications in the event of a disaster significantly affecting its PDC, protecting their prestigious brand, and assuring that its clients can continue to receive vital and timely healthcare supplies and services.
When Cobb EMC (headquartered in Marietta, Georgia) needed help designing and developing a Business Continuity Program (BCP) to sustain business operations at its campus, it turned to Corus360 for Continuity Plan development assistance. Additionally, Cobb EMC also realized the need to upgrade the company’s Emergency Response and Communications Plan to assure its integration with the Business Continuity Program. Corus360 was selected to provide assistance for both of these initiatives.
Cobb EMC’s large campus contains multiple buildings. Individual departments are highly dependent upon each facility they occupy, and the loss or inability to occupy any one of the campus buildings would likely have a significant impact on all business operations. This dispersion of business functions also stressed the importance of being able to communicate with the company’s staff following a disastrous event. The sudden and unexpected arrival of a severe winter snow storm late one afternoon resulting in a major outage highlighted the cooperative’s need to update its major outage procedures, response management, and efficient communication for employees, members, and the community.
Following an extensive review of its requirements, Cobb EMC chose Corus360’s consultants to perform a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) to determine business recovery requirements and to determine suitable recovery strategies and develop Business Continuity Plans. Corus360’s consultants worked with Cobb EMC’s staff to complete the BIA that produced a recovery profile for each building, identified potential solutions and associated costs, and presented the results to the executive group for concurrence and approval. Based on the selected recovery strategies, executable Business Continuity Plans were developed, and training sessions were conducted.
Secondarily, Corus360’s consultants worked with Cobb EMC on an initiative to assess the results of the snow storm event. Corus360’s team assumed responsibility for consolidating the resulting data and documenting a Distribution System Restoration Plan (DSRP).
Cobb EMC leveraged Corus360’s consultants’ experience and operational planning skills to effectively deliver the desired result. Cobb EMC now has the capability to recover its business operations and respond to major events that may occur while protecting its prestigious brand and assure that its members can continue to receive vital energy services.