The ongoing debate over the use of software for business continuity planning has typically been centred on the perceived value of its functionality. Software developers and vendors are in support of it due to its automated features while the critics cite the complexity of administration, implementation and licensing costs. It is not uncommon to find questions on whether a company needs a business continuity software or not but it might be helpful to first understand what a business continuity software is.
Business continuity software cannot be described in one word since it can be many things. Some packages offer integrated solutions with a long list of business continuity objectives while others are very industry or objective specific. Just like other software, some may be very easy to use while others; complex.
Many companies use software to create, maintain, support, distribute and even test their continuity plans and to ensure the survival of the business in times of emergencies and crisis. Regardless of the company size, one can greatly benefit from the use of business continuity software and there are many options available for its implementations and the plan maintenance strategies. Some of the functional benefits of business continuity software are;
Document templates helps in the standardisation across in enterprise but only up to a certain degree while the software allows the administration to enforce any plans using the planning and security wizards available. Planners should be able to work within the frame work that has been designed for them. Many of the continuity software packages offer plan completion tracking and the reporting of the progress across the company.
Map recovery dependencies
Most of the continuity software will allow the end users to map the recovery dependencies that illuminate the relationships and to also enable the remediation of exposures. When a company develops plans in a silo, the risk that recovery time objectives may not be supported by predecessor information technology systems and other business processes is magnified.
Software allows for data integration across all the modules. Many software systems have been improved to include modules for emergency notification, business impact analysis and incident management. Sharing the same database across the company allows the system to support data sharing between business impact analysis, plans, incident management tools and emergency notification systems.
Business continuity metrics
This software supports the development of business continuity metrics. A relational database will allow for the creation of complex reporting that summarizes all the business continuity information. Gathering data manually from all the documents is a lot of work and may require additional staff or over time form the existing employees. Manual data compilation also has a big margin for error and strategy development may be hindered in the absence of accuracy in the data collected.
Accommodation of planning initiatives
Unlike business continuity plan documents, software is more accommodation of any evolving planning initiatives. Planning wizards navigators can be easily updated to address any new initiatives or specific plan easily and quickly. The planning tools can also be improved to provide instruction details for meeting new standards or guidelines.