The Case for Continuity Management Software

No one can control whether or not an organization will be affected by a natural disaster, hardware failure, power outage, or other unplanned incident. But companies can prepare to respond to and recover from such events with minimal impact by creating and keeping business continuity plans. Business continuity management (BCM) software can help with this. Consider how you might use it:

1. Analyze how a disaster will affect the business. A business impact analysis provides a detailed picture of an organization’s financial and operational vulnerabilities and recovery strategies. BCM software supports multiple business impact analyses at any given time and allows organizations to perform historical tracking to compare past and current results and analyze trends. BCM software also helps establish recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives.

2. Generate and test actionable plans that address a full range of possible interruptions—big or small. BCM software creates business continuity plans with checklists of required activities and timing, clear explanations of assigned roles, definitions of needed resources, and identification of dependencies. It is also able to recognize and relate technology and business relationships that would be relevant to the event and the recovery process.

But simply creating a business continuity plan is not enough. Organizations must also test their plans to identify and correct problems before an actual interruption occurs. BCM software allows companies to record the critical staff resources involved in a test, significant issues encountered during a test, and testing metrics that measure actual performance against goals.

3. Automate business continuity management processes while saving time and money. When utilizing basic tools such as word processing documents, organizations can waste hours of data entry work to keep their business continuity plans updated, only to have to revise them in the near future. BCM software helps organizations to make changes once. It then automatically applies those changes to the entire plan, reducing time and administrative costs.

4. Remove guesswork from compliance and security regulations. BCM software supports compliance by tracking relevant information about an organization’s availability program and providing a central source of information. This facilitates faster, more efficient reporting to governing bodies within and outside an organization. Additionally, by utilizing BCM software, companies are better able to protect confidential plan information and filter it to only its intended audiences. When selecting a BCM solution, organizations should choose software designed with security architecture that complies with major regulations such as HIPAA and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

5. Accommodate change and growth over time. BCM software is a tool that is built to accommodate change and address the unique demands of information availability. It can be scaled appropriately to fit companies of any size—regardless of the maturity of their business continuity program. For example, a small organization could start with an on-demand solution with little or no customization and have it grow with their needs.

Tracey Forbes Vice-President, Product Development SunGard Availability Services Wayne, Penn.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.