On Thursday morning UCAS – the authority in charge of the clearing process for university admissions – was forced to temporarily take down the website on which students can track their university offers, after it was unable to handle the volume of people trying to log on. The service was restored that afternoon and UCAS has issued an apology to those affected.
From a Business Continuity point of view, the most interesting aspect of this incident is the claim by Mary Curnock-Cook, Head of UCAS, that “Critical systems were 100% available all the time”. The many students who had an incredibly stressful wait to find out if their chosen universities had accepted them would probably argue that being able to log on to UCAS Track was quite critical so Mrs Curnock-Cook’s remark begs the question: critical to whom? This is an illustration of a common problem when organisations undertake a Business Impact Analysis; namely that they identify and prioritise “Critical activities” from an internal perspective rather than considering the impacts on their stakeholders.
For more advice on conducting a Business Impact Analysis you may wish to read the article “Getting Your House in Order”, available in the “Downloads” section of our website.