A look at Business Continuity
software, and whether we really need it.
When you listen to some of the salesmen of Business Continuity
software you just can not but wonder about the products. They can do
everything, except make the tea, and do the ironing.
Or is it really so? Business
Continuity software. Do we really need it? Does it help the project?
Do we do it quicker? Better? Cheaper?
Or is it an unnecessary, expensive, over-complicating, over here (much
of it is American) distraction. We do have our own home-grown UK
products as well !
The serious bit for software where there are many products. You:
Collect lots of data
Prepare lots of action plans
Prepare lots of contact lists
Distribute lots of extracts and
And do it securely
There are many products in this area
from the US and the UK. It is a small and fragmented market. There is
no dominant market leader with a large installed base. Some
The market leader in terms of dollars
shipped is LDRPS. It is not a cheap product!
NeverFail Plan is a recent entrant in this market. It has a good
pedigree in that it comes from the Adam Associates / Global Continuity
stable, a well known company in this market.
Some DR suppliers have their own software they promote. Revolution
from Comdisco is one example.
There are many others. But none are household names, and they will
have to be tracked down at specialist web sites and from specialist
This is a significant part of the BCP work. In fact you will spend far
more effort and time maintaining a plan than you spent building it.
This has to be a key area for justifying the use of software. Software
tools can have real advantage:
The use of software tools also has
some other advantages, which are evident in both the plan development
phase and the plan maintenance phase:
Force uniform standards. Can be
very important for a large organisation with many sites, and
consequently many plans, which may be prepared by many people.
'Proven' approach. DR/BC
professionals using a tested approach will have developed the
software. It should work.
Reduces error. An automated
approach has less opportunity for human error.
What Do You Want From Software?
What are some of the things you are looking for from software?
There are other key requirements:
Easy to use
Easy to learn
Software tools provide a framework for you to work within. In
particular they will come with a standard set or sets of tasks that
can be assembled in to your plan or plans. This can be very useful in
reducing the time taken to prepare plans and to help in ensuring you
have included all the necessary activities.
This can be the most useful part of the software! But is often the
part that is least emphasised by the suppliers. They appear often to
be more interested in the fact that it is a relational database, easy
to use, web enabled, etc.
When reviewing software make sure you get to see the templates and
standard lists. The quality / applicability of these for your
situation may be a significant factor in the usefulness of the
3 Reasons for Buying Software
There are good reasons for considering the use of software.
The methodology / knowledgebase
can make a significant difference to the time and quality of the
plans. Why re-invent the wheel when you can use someone else's?
Software will impose a discipline
on plan structure and format. For a many sited / many plan
organisation this can be a real advantage in ensuring company
standards are adhered to. Also helps on invocation if staff from
other sites are brought in to help as they will be familiar with
the look and feel of the plan.
Software may help with the
logistics. For a many sited / many plan organisation the software
will help with the administration of plan maintenance, in
particular if the software can be used remotely via a network link
or the company intranet.
3 Reasons for Not Buying Software
There is another alternative.
Consultants may be more effective.
A consultant can tailor the approach to fit your environment,
something software can not do.
Consultants may be more cost
effective. When used only for support on key tasks, with the
detailed work being undertaken by you and your staff, a consultant
can be a cost-effective approach.
Software may complicate the
process. All software has a training requirement, no matter how
user friendly. And the more sophisticated the software, the
greater the training requirement. Your situation may not justify
Does an organisation with 20 sites
have 20 plans, or 1 plan with 20 variations? If you have 20 very
similar sites you may find you have 20 activity lists that are the
same with 20 different contact lists. Keep activities and contacts
separate and you may not need the complication of a software tool to
maintain the plans.
Software may be for you a very effective and cost-effective
investment. But an alternative may be more appropriate. There are
alternatives, which may better fit your requirements.
Consultancies, such as Business Evailability, can help in deciding the
suitability of software tools for your requirements, identifying
appropriate tools, and advising on the tools to be considered.
Consultancies can tailor the planning project to provide you with the
right level of support, at the right time for you, at a cost-effective
price. Software optional.