When launching business continuity and disaster recovery initiatives, consider using specialized BC/DR software to help you achieve your goals.
BC/DR software helps build BC and/or DR plans -- either generic plans or plans for specific vertical markets, such as universities or government agencies. Some also facilitate risk assessments (RA) and business impact analyses (BIAs), the results of which can be used to build BC/DR plans. Since incident management (IM) is a key part of BC/DR plans, most systems can help develop IM plans. More sophisticated systems have their own automated emergency notification (EN) capability, while others may have intelligent links into established EN products. Some systems can help facilitate exercises and support awareness and training activities.
Examples of key players in the market include Everbridge, COOP Systems, Strategic BCP, Binomial International, eBRP Solutions, IBM, Paradigm Solutions International, SunGard and TAMP Systems. For budget-friendly BC/DR software, please check out the Rothstein Disaster Recovery Online Bookstore.
Today's systems come complete with powerful relational databases and predefined templates to write just about any kind of plan. Systems that facilitate BIAs can design the BIA questions, distribute questionnaires to users, then collect and analyze the data gathered. Your system can run on a PC or laptop, server or even a mainframe. Most of the hot products are platform-type systems accessed via the Internet or cloud-based solutions.
Pricing ranges from under $500 for a CD-based system (such as the one found in the Rothstein bookstore) to hundreds of thousands of dollars for multinode networked systems (e.g., SunGard's LDRPS). Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may find the low-cost products appealing since the results are usually consistent with good BC/DR practice and are budget-friendly. At the other end of the spectrum, it may be better to choose either a premise/server-based system to ensure proper management oversight, or a Web-based solution that is easily scalable and requires minimal to no overhead.
Tips for selecting the right BC/DR software
1. Define your requirements before research software options. If you have no BC/DR at all, consider the CD-based products. If you already have a system, determine what enhancements you need.
2. Ask internally for previous experience. Inquire among your colleagues and others in the organization to see if any of them have previously installed BC/DR software, perhaps with a prior employer.
3. Engage a consultant. Find someone who has experience planning, installing and managing BC/DR software. Hopefully, you can obtain a relatively unbiased opinion on specific products and solutions.
4. Prepare and distribute a Request for Information (RFI). This approach helps you gather information about prospective vendors. From this exercise, you may be able to identify some prospective candidates. If possible, try out demo systems (or live systems if available) to get a feel for a variety of solutions.
5. Prepare and distribute a Request for Proposals (RFP). This is often the next step after an RFI and is designed to demonstrate your true interest in procuring BC/DR software solutions. Be sure to schedule detailed demonstrations of working client systems (not specially configured demo systems) as part of the RFP process.
The process for selecting BC/DR software is similar to selecting pretty much any other kind of software. Since your investment could easily get into the tens of thousands of dollars, do the research, ask a lot of questions and make your choice based on your current and anticipated needs.
About the author: Paul Kirvan, CISA, FBCI, has more than 24 years of experience in business continuity management (BCM) as a consultant, author and educator. He has completed dozens of BCM consulting and audit engagements that address all aspects of a business continuity management system and which are aligned with global standards, including BS 25999 and ISO 22301. Kirvan currently works as an independent business continuity consultant/auditor and is the secretary of the Business Continuity Institute USA chapter and a member of the BCI Global Membership Council. He can be reached at [email protected].