January 24, 2024 | CRA Advice

The Critical Importance of a Business Continuity Plan in Your Data Provider

Note: This is part of a blog series about the critical role a background screening data provider plays in the success of your organization and the importance of thoroughly evaluating key areas of your potential partners. In this blog, Nick Kelland, InformData’s Chief Technology Officer, shares his insights on business continuity plans/disaster planning.

In the dynamic landscape of the background screening industry, where data accuracy and reliability are paramount, selecting the right data provider is a decision that requires careful consideration. One key aspect that demands attention is whether your potential or current data provider has a robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and actively participates in disaster planning.

Let’s explore the importance and the risks associated with partnering with a provider lacking these essential components.

The Core of Business Stability: Why BCP Matters

Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) play a pivotal role in our society. They help people get jobs and contribute to community safety by delivering precise, timely background screening data to their clients. The reliance on prompt and accurate information underscores the critical significance of uninterrupted service. This is why having a well-structured Business Continuity Plan is so important.

A Business Continuity Plan is not just a document; it’s a comprehensive strategy that delineates clear procedures for sustaining essential functions during and after a disruptive event. The shared objective of both BCP and disaster planning is to minimize downtime, sustain critical operations, and mitigate the impact of unforeseen incidents.

For businesses relying on timely and accurate data, such as CRAs, any interruption in service ripples through operations, impacting workflows and compromising decision-making. Therefore, the consequences of an unprepared data provider extend far beyond the immediate disruption. A comprehensive BCP ensures resilience, enabling the data provider to navigate challenges and maintain the flow of critical information.

Let’s consider a few examples:

  • Server Outages: Last year, Amazon (AWS) had an issue where a large hub of their East Coast servers was compromised. This incident left several CRAs and data providers unable to operate for nearly a day.

  • Hurricanes: Severe weather, such as hurricanes, have impacted businesses with a high concentration of workers in one area.

  • Power Grid Outages: In 2003, the East Coast suffered the worst power blackout in history, with over 40 million customers losing power for two days.

Those with a BCP plan in place to account for these scenarios either experienced continued operations with no issues or could quickly get back up and running with minimal downtime.

Risks of Ignoring BCP

Partnering with a data provider that neglects BCP and disaster planning exposes your CRA or background screening company to a range of risks. Imagine a scenario where your data provider faces an unexpected challenge or disruptive incident - if they lack preparedness, the consequences to your business may include:

  • Downtime and Service Interruption: Extended downtime is a major risk, impacting the timely delivery of your background screening results.

  • Reputation Damage: Your reputation may be tarnished if your provider’s lack of preparedness causes delays and inconsistencies in your background screening processes.

  • Financial Implications: You could experience financial repercussions such as lost revenue due to delayed results for your clients.

  • Limited Scalability and Flexibility: A provider without a BCP may struggle to adapt quickly to the dynamic business environment of the background screening industry, limiting their ability to meet your evolving data needs.

  • Potential Closure in an Emergency: In the event of a major emergency, a data provider without a BCP may struggle to recover, risking business continuity and potential demise. This instability can pose a significant risk to your long-term partnership and the sustainability of your data solutions.

  • Data Security: Without a well-thought-out plan, there's a heightened risk of data breaches, loss, or unauthorized access during unstable times.

Evaluate Your Data Provider

It’s undeniable that your data provider should have a robust Business Continuity Plan in place. When evaluating a potential partner, I recommend you have a proactive conversation with them regarding their BCP and disaster planning. Ask them directly if they have a documented plan, what its key components are, and how regularly it’s reviewed and tested. You could even ask for a copy – a transparent and responsible data provider should be willing to share relevant documentation outlining their strategies for ensuring business continuity during disruptive events.

This simple conversation helps you gather the necessary information to assess whether your data provider has a comprehensive and effective BCP in place, helping you make an informed decision about the reliability of their services in the long term.

InformData’s Approach

At InformData, we understand the critical role of timely, accurate people data in the background screening processes. More importantly, we understand the significance of your essential services continuing with minimal interruption. That's why we've invested in a comprehensive and regularly tested Business Continuity Plan. Our BCP is designed to mitigate risks and provide assurance regarding uninterrupted access to reliable data. Our commitment extends beyond offering top-tier data services; we ensure the continuity and security of those services, even in adverse times.

Choosing a data provider for background screening is about more than accessing accurate information—it's about finding a resilient and reliable partner, even in the most challenging situations. The presence of a robust Business Continuity Plan and effective Disaster Planning is non-negotiable. So, when you’re on the hunt for a new data partner or assessing your current provider, make sure to factor this into your evaluation.

Up Next: In the next part of this weekly blog series, John Hanks, InformData’s Director of Vendor Partnerships, will explore the importance of your data provider having rigorous vendor and researcher testing processes in place.

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