Business continuity software is an application or suite designed to make business continuity planning/business continuity management (BCP/BCM) processes, metrics and compliance more efficient and accurate. Business continuity software helps organizations conduct business-impact analyses, create and update recovery plans and identify gaps in BCM programs. Designed to automate the BCP/BCM process, these software tools are available either on-premise or through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.
Software from vendors in this sector is designed to help organizations run their BCM programs more efficiently and with greater agility. In addition to documenting the crucial information a business needs to remain up and running despite adverse events, BCM software and systems can identify an organization's risk of exposure to internal and external threats and help companies respond effectively to threats such as natural disasters or data breaches and protect the business interests of the organization. The tools can help with disaster recovery, data center resiliency, business resumption and recovery, crisis management, incident management, emergency management and contingency planning.
Using business continuity software enables companies to make sure their data is accurate, comprehensive, well organized and analyzed and up to date. These tools also provide visibility into the organization and its BCM program, make it easier to communicate information about the program to senior management and other stakeholders and enable companies to respond more effectively to disruptions.
Popular business continuity software vendors include Arcserve, Axicent, Continuity ogic, StorageCraft and Strategic BCP.
Business continuity software and compliance
Business continuity software also helps ensure that programs are compliant with relevant standards and regulations. An increasing number of organizations are requiring their business partners to be compliant with business continuity standards, such as ISO 22301 and related specifications in the ISO 223xx series, NFPA 1600 from the National Fire Protection Association or those found in the Business Continuity Planning booklet from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.
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Another standard in the ISO 223xx series, ISO 22316 provides guidance to enhance organizational resilience for any size or type of public or private organization. Although not specific to any industry or vertical market, ISO 22316 can be applied throughout the lifecycle of an organization. Resilience is defined in ISO 22316 as an organization’s ability to “absorb and adapt in a changing environment."
Also a key part of BCM, cybersecurity compliance may be determined with the ISO/IEC 27000 series aimed at helping organizations keep their information assets, such as their financial information, employee details and intellectual property, secure.
Challenges of business continuity software
Despite the benefits of business continuity software, organizations often face challenges in trying to make their BCP/BCM programs more agile. The more complex a program is, the more difficult it is to adapt to new challenges. Additionally, because BCM programs go through lifecycles, it is easier to make changes at certain points rather than at others.
Many companies also do not understand the BCM process, their business continuity needs and what the ideal program should include. Constantly changing threat environments are difficult for companies to come to terms with, and many companies are slow to adapt to change. BCM consultants caution that before buying business continuity software, organizations should determine their needs and priorities. Furthermore, companies should not buy more software than they need and they should realize the amount of effort necessary to implement the software.