How to Get on Top of Operational Resilience Dependency Mapping
Operational resilience is the ability to deliver operations, including critical operations and core business lines, through a disruption from any hazard. But there’s no way to know whether you are, in fact, operationally resilient without first knowing what goes into delivering your critical operations.
That’s where operational resilience dependency mapping comes in. Dependency mapping is the process of identifying, documenting, and understanding all of the activities that are involved in delivering critical business services.
How to get on top of dependency mapping to establish and maintain operational resilience? The subsequent article lays out a best-practice strategy and the digital technology capabilities needed to effectively map your dependencies.
Why map dependencies at all?
But why map dependencies in the first place?
The short answer is a company’s weaknesses, where it’s most vulnerable, are just as important as its strengths, its core products.
Businesses must, therefore, understand what goes into delivering core products. And to do so, they must identify all interdependencies.
In this regard, dependency mapping is also good for risk mitigation. Businesses, in identifying potential weaknesses to delivering core products and services, can begin to assess and control operational risk.
The other benefits of operational resilience dependency mapping include:
- Identify vulnerabilities
- Better plan exercises around potential disruptions
- Test possible remediations if disruptions were to occur
What goes into dependency mapping?
So, what’s involved in dependency mapping?
At its simplest, dependency mapping is a collaborative process of identifying and documenting all the people, processes, information, technology, facilities, and third-party venders required to deliver each critical business service.
Of course, things are more complicated than that. When mapping processes involved in delivering critical business services, the key resources to be considered are:
- People, i.e., the number of resources needed over time.
How to map operational resilience dependencies across the organization?
Add to that, each company will have its own unique set of critical business services. Mapping dependencies underlying those services will, of course, depend in part on the services in question.
Nevertheless, there are generic, best-practice steps to operational resilience dependency mapping. The end-to-end process is likely to look something like this:
- Determine the extent of the mapping exercise.
- Recognize pertinent exercise owners, i.e., collaborate with business unit leaders, IT managers, risk management teams, and other relevant stakeholders to identify and engage the key departments and individuals responsible for vital business functions.
- Inspect the connections between business units, systems, applications, processes, and external entities, such as suppliers, partners, and regulatory bodies (More details later). This analysis helps identify crucial links and potential vulnerabilities.
- Identify internal interdependencies among various systems, processes, and functions.
- Examine how failures or disruptions in one area can impact others.
- Take into account dependencies on IT infrastructure, data centers, communication networks, and personnel.
- Evaluate external interdependencies with third-party vendors, service providers, and other external entities. Identify vital relationships and dependencies that the institution relies on to provide its services. These include outsourced processes, cloud service providers (CSPs), regulatory reporting systems, and other external dependencies. Assess the potential impact of disruptions in these relationships on the institution's operations.
- Record all interdependencies and generate a comprehensive inventory documenting identified dependencies and connections. Include information such as criticality, dependencies, contact persons, and relevant documentation.
- Document the identified interdependencies in a structured manner, for example, visual representations like diagrams or flowcharts might better illustrate the relationships and dependencies. This includes information on the relationship's nature, data flows, communication channels, and any contractual or legal obligations. This documentation serves as a reference for future analysis and planning.
- Establish effective communication channels to facilitate ongoing collaboration and information sharing among stakeholders. This ensures a shared understanding of dependencies and enables efficient coordination during disruptions.
- Obtain approval on the accuracy of the collected data. Based on the impact types and criteria, the defined timeframes, and the agreed methodology, activity owners should evaluate the impacts over time resulting from a disruption.
- Continuously review and update the dependency map to reflect organizational structure, processes, or changes in external relationships. This ensures the accuracy and relevance of the mapping information.
Digital technology to help map dependencies
This might seem like a lot. But remember, there’s no reason to do it all manually, either.
Instead, operational resilience software will give your organizations the ability to define and manage critical products and services, effectively map dependencies end-to-end, set and test impact tolerances for disruption, and consolidated data to provide full transparency into the scope of your operational resilience program.
And that’s not all. As part of a larger integrated resilience workspace, solutions like Noggin connect the people, processes, and tools required for organizations to enhance their operational resilience, minimize the impact of disruptions, and still deliver critical products and services to meet their obligations to customers, stakeholders, and the wider economy.
But don’t just take our word for it. Request a demonstration of Noggin to see for yourself.