I don’t know if business continuity management software is the best thing since sliced bread, but it is pretty terrific stuff, in my opinion.
Of course, for BCM software to live up to its potential, a few important criteria must be met, in terms of the suitability of the software chosen, the attitude of the people administering it, and the characteristics of the organization (I’ll go into all that in more detail in the second part of the post).
But generally speaking, if you are a business continuity professional, I think that using BCM software—for business continuity planning, BIAs, metrics, and compliance—can change your life for the better. More to the point, it can change the BC program at your organization for the better, increasing its resiliency and boosting its ability to recover from a disruption.
To show you what I mean, I’d like to take you on a virtual visit to an imaginary company—call it, Widget Inc.
Widget Inc. does not use business continuity software. They manage their BC program the old-fashioned way: manually. In developing and recording their business continuity data and plans, they use a combination of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides, and saved email memos (which might be stored on one or more network drives, in the cloud, or on an individual’s hard drive, or any combination of the three).
What’s more, some of the company’s critical information exists only in hard-copy form, stored in binders in various places, hung up on a clipboard somewhere, and even jotted on Post-it notes stuck on someone’s computer.
As a result of this fruit salad approach to administering their BCM program, there are four things at Widget that are a lot more difficult than they need to be.
Unfortunately for the company, these are four of the most critical functions in business continuity management.
- Ensuring that program data is accurate, comprehensive, up to date, and properly organized and analyzed.
- Obtaining an accurate understanding of the state of the BC program.
- Communicating accurate, easily comprehensible information about the program to stakeholders, including senior management (you know, the people who have to provide the program’s funding).
- Implementing recovery plans in the event of a disruption.
Widget Inc. might be the darling of Wall Street and make the best widgets ever, but as you can see, the situation of their BCM program is anything but pretty.
Now, suppose we paid a return visit to Widget several months later, after they acquired a good suite of BCM tools and successfully transitioned to using them. What would we see then? A lot less electronic and paper clutter, for one thing. In its place would be a suite of applications, securely backed up and accessible anytime and from anywhere, which contained comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date information about the program. Moreover, thanks to these tools, the data would be properly organized and analyzed, the BCM team would have an accurate overview of the state of their program, and the team would have been able to share this information with senior management and other stakeholders (perhaps obtaining funding for an important new initiative, as a result). Finally, thanks to the clarity and heightened organization provided by the tools, Widget’s BCM team would now be that much better prepared to respond in the event of a disruption.
This leads us to the 4 ways using BCM software can change your life (and your program) for the better:
- It helps you make sure your data is accurate, comprehensive, properly organized and analyzed, and up to date.
- It makes it easy for you to see what’s going on with your program and organization.
- It makes it easier for you to communicate information about your program to senior management and other stakeholders.
- It enables you to respond more effectively to disruptions.
At the beginning I mentioned there were a handful of criteria that have to be met in order for an organization to get the most out of BCM software. They are:
- Before buying BCM software, the organization should figure out its requirements and priorities.
- The organization should not buy more software than it needs. (Too often I see companies buying the BCM tool equivalent of a Porsche when all they need is an SUV.)
- The managers should be realistic about the effort that will be required to begin using the software.
- The organization should be a good candidate for using BCM software. In other words, it should have one or more of the following characteristics:
- Geographically dispersed (facilities in multiple locations)
- Large and complex (e.g., 25 or more business units, over 1,000 employees, and/or require 50 or more recovery plans)
- In a heavily regulated industry (such as finance or healthcare)
If your organization meets any of these criteria—and if your BC program looks anything like Widget Inc.’s did on our first visit—your company would likely benefit a great deal by obtaining a good, well-chosen suite of business continuity software.
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Want to see the BCMMetrics™ suite of business continuity software in action? We’d be happy to walk you through it. Visit our website to schedule a demo at your convenience, and take the first step toward greater confidence in your business continuity program.