IV     Business Continuity Strategies

Action Summary


The board and senior management should develop effective strategies to meet resilience and recovery objectives. Effective oversight generally includes guidelines to achieve defined business continuity objectives.


Examiners should review BCM strategies and determine whether the strategies:


  • Address personnel, processes, technology, and facility issues.
  • Address critical business risks in the operating environment (e.g., mitigate specific or unique threats, such as cyber threats or loss of critical third-party service providers).
  • Outline a combination of backup, replication, and storage methods for data protection.
  • Provide for high redundancy levels in the telecommunications infrastructure.
  • Detail a consistent change management process throughout the entity.
  • Include alternatives for any proprietary systems.
  • Include provisions for appropriate international business activities, where applicable.

Business continuity strategies are developed after the BIA and risk assessment process. These strategies should be risk-based and address all foreseeable risks, including non-technology risks (e.g., transaction, liquidity, and reputation risks). Strategies should include allocation of resources to meet resilience and recovery objectives. Strategies should be validated to confirm that they are viable and sufficient for peak work volumes. For example, the increased reliance on and interconnectivity of technology makes it less feasible for many entities to operate manually for an extended period, if at all.

Strategies should include the potential impact to personnel, processes, technology, facilities, and data. Personnel-related strategies may include logistical arrangements to transport or house staff at alternate facilities. In addition, management may establish alternate methods for communicating with employees, customers, and external parties. Process-related strategies may include redundant work sites for business-line operations or manual processes. Technology-related strategies may include fully equipped backup data centers or cloud providers. Backup strategies should include data files, operating systems, and applications and utilities. Facilities-related strategies may include geographic diversity or multiple power sources to reduce single point of failure risk.

Data protection strategies typically include a combination of backup, replication, and storage to achieve different levels of continuity and resilience. For example, it may be appropriate to deploy more automated, scalable solutions, such as data replication to a cloud. Management should develop comprehensive strategies to protect data, such as:

  • Integrating operational, continuity, and resilience strategies to protect data based on recovery objectives.
  • Designing a process to preserve the integrity and availability of data from threats.
  • Monitoring the effectiveness and efficiency of data protection solutions.

Strategies should address critical business risks in the operating environment. Management should consider strategies to mitigate specific or unique threats, such as cyber threats or loss of critical third-party service providers. The specific strategy in response to an event may be different based on the entity’s capabilities. Management should determine what alternatives exist for proprietary systems given the significant, unique risks to an entity’s business activities. For example, some entities use internally developed assets (e.g., spreadsheets or other tools) that are critical for certain calculations within a business unit, which are often overlooked, including where and how they are stored, during the risk assessment and BIA processes. Furthermore, management should also consider access capabilities for voice and data, mapping technology infrastructure to employee needs, and internal and external capacity (including remote capacity) to determine whether telecommuting strategies are sufficient.

Strategies could include cloud architectures, virtualization, and other technologies. Cloud solutions may provide a cost-effective and high-availability environment. Independent of the strategies selected for architecture and data protection, management should still be responsible for data integrity and overall resilience. Cloud-based disaster recovery servicesRefer to the FFIEC’s statement on Outsourced Cloud Computing. may be considered as part of resilience programs. Refer to section V.E.1, “Data Center Recovery Alternatives,” for additional information.


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