Network Damage


The Problem

Any large business or organization is a complex web of interconnected people and departments. An individual department functions at normal capacity when it receives resources and information that it needs from other departments. In turn, a department can provide resources and information to other departments when it is functioning normally. Therefore, the organization as a whole operates normally only when each individual department is functioning at normal capacity. What happens to an organization when one or more of its departments cannot operate at full capacity? How does this lost capacity, or damage, affect the rest of the organization?

Background Information

When a company takes a quantitative risk analysis approach to disaster recovery planning, any number of mathematical models can be utilized to analyze the company. The model takes the organization as a complex structure of interconnected departments. The organization can implement this model in a simulation that is designed to identify vulnerabilities in the structure. The organization can use the results of the simulation to develop effective strategies to eliminate or protect these weaknesses in the system. Some possible models include the standard network flow model and the decision analysis model, which an organization can use to implement a quantitative approach to risk analysis.

Network models are used to simulate flow through oil pipelines, shipment of goods between factories and distribution points, telephone communications, and many other related activities. The model allows the user to look at the structure of the system in order to determine its flaws.

Materials Included

  • Information on various network designs
  • Explanations on how to study damage spread through a system
  • Potential challenges and questions to give to students for discussion
  • Interactive Excel spreadsheet which examines a network of up to 10 departments