Single points of failure

Single points of failure

Your business is probably dependent on the continued operation of one or more critical services, for example basic utility type services i.e. power, water, IT, communications. And it also often dependent on services which are inherent to the nature and geographic location of the business such as premises, product supply, workforce, transport.  The continued operation of a service could, for example, be dependent on a particular skill which is in short supply.  Therefore, cross training plans and knowledge transfer are essential when best mitigating these types of risk.

Your IT critical services may be dependent on a number of servers which are already protected with dual power supplies, raid disk, virtualisation and dual network cards.  But without for example, diverse sub-station power feeds, generator backup, multi-supplier  network connections, change and configuration management process and procedures, could be subject to multiple  points of failure.

As your business strives to meet the ever changing needs of its customer base and continues to grow and develop, the critical services upon which the business is dependent will also evolve and their associated dependencies change.  Keeping track of critical service dependency change is essential to the continued operation of those services.

The problems

Changes can be made to a multitude of individual critical service dependencies that if not fully understood and managed correctly may impact the continued operation of the overall service.  Typical issues include:

  • Have all aspects of your workforce skill and knowledge  been identified and considered  to ensure that all critical services can continue to operate and where avoidable  are not dependent on a few key individual‘s and or certain locations?
  • Have you reviewed all aspects of IT redundancy ensuring that all points of failure have been identified and where necessary and affordable to do so the desired level of redundancy is planed or has been reached across your server, storage, network and peripheral infrastructures?
  • Have you defined and implemented all the necessary process and procedures required to manage and implement any change, which could impact the continued operation of a critical service?
  • Have you identified what equipment your critical services are dependent on and defined how to best mitigate the supply of that equipment if and when it becomes unavailable for use and therefore needs to be repaired or replaced?
  • Have you defined which third parties your critical services are dependent on, and defined how best to mitigate the continued supply of that service if for whatever reason the supplier is unable to meet their contractual obligation?
  • A method of identifying and managing change to all critical service dependencies is essential to aid the understanding and protection of those services, ensuring the continued operation of those services that your business is ultimately dependent upon.

The solution – dependency modelling

Building dependency models can prove to be invaluable when trying to identify and manage all points of failure that your business and its critical services are dependent upon.  Using a dependency model to define and manage critical service dependency ensures that careful consideration is given to all aspects of a service, and provides clear and concise visual representation of the single points of failure that the continued operation of that service could be impacted by.  A dependency model is an essential easy to use Business Impact Analysis tool.

With the ability to record the current state dependency model and any subsequent changes from design, procurement, implementation, testing, production and further development, the whole process is recorded and can be audited as required.

The responsible individuals or groups can easily reflect any changes that they have planed or implemented and add additional short statements as appropriate to their allocated section of the dependency model.  Using Riskenomics, our web based dependency modelling tool, service managers can check and review the current status of their dependency model, providing comfort in the knowledge that all service impacting changes are well defined and successful.

Why use dependency models?

In using dependency models, every aspect of a service can be reviewed, recorded, along with actions taken and itemised closure recorded and agreed.  The whole process provides clear visibility to points of failure and focuses on how best to minimize the impact of the same.

  • Provides structure
  • Transparency
  • Auditability
  • Accountability
  • Multi-user web access

As a result of this dependency modelling system and management control process, your business will understand and best manage change to all critical service dependencies helping to ensure the continued operation of your business.