Designing a Thrifty Approach for SME Business Continuity: Practices for Transparency of the Design Process

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Business continuity (BC) management is an organizational approach to preparing information systems (IS) for incidents, but such approaches are uncommon among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Past research has indicated a gap in approaches that are designed for SMEs since BC management approaches tend to originate from larger organizations and SMEs lack the resources to implement them. To fill this gap, and to respond to a practical need by an IT consultancy company, we employed design science research (DSR) to develop a BC approach for SMEs coined as the thrifty BC management approach. Jointly with the company’s practitioners, we developed a set of metarequirements for BC approaches for SMEs anchored in prior BC literature, practitioners’ practical expertise, and the theories of collective mindfulness and sociotechnical systems. We evaluated our thrifty BC management approach with multiple SMEs. These evaluations suggest that the designed approach mostly meets the defined meta-requirements. Moreover, the evaluations offered ample opportunities for learning. The design process, unfolding in a real-world setting, was precarious, rife with contingencies and ad hoc decisions. To render the design process transparent, we adapted four writing conventions from the confessional research genre familiar to ethnographic research but novel to DSR. We offer a threefold contribution. First, we contribute to SMEs’ BC with meta-requirements and their instantiation in a new BC approach (artifact); second, we contribute with four practices of confessional writing for transparency of DSR research; and third, we contribute with reflections on our theoretical learning from throughout the design process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Systems
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1557-1602
Number of pages46
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
All authors contributed equally to the paper. We wish to thank our senior editor, Professor Alexander Maedche, and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments during the review process. We also are grateful for Professors Mikko Siponen and Hannu Salmela and Associate Professor Abayomi Baiyere for their comments on an early version of this paper. Our thanks go also to MSc Atso Aho, who helped us in the project data collection, as well as all “Jude” from the IT consultancy referred to in this paper and all companies involved in the evaluation. The research project was partly funded by a European regional development fund (1732/31/2015).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Association for Information Systems. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Business Continuity, Design Science Research, Research Transparency, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Thrifty BC Management Approach
  • Business informatics