If you’ve talked to anyone in your company (or someone else’s) about business continuity software, you’ve probably come across two schools of thought.
The first one—let’s call it the “Don’t Need It” point of view—says: “We know our company better than anyone else and we have all the resources we need right here. Plus, our IT people really know their stuff. We don’t need a software platform. We can just build what we need ourselves.”
And then there’s the “Gotta Have It” school of thought. This viewpoint says: “We need an efficient, well-designed plan to protect our data and get everything back online again as quickly as possible if there’s a crisis. The best way to do that is to purchase a software package that’s designed for exactly this scenario.”
“Don’t Need It” advocates have a point. But so do the “Gotta Have Its.” So who is right? What’s the best business continuity solution for your company, and where do you find it?
The Benefits of Business Application Software
Maybe we need to start with a more basic question: Do you really need business application software at all? A unifying business application is a key part of a business continuity solution. In many cases, it may serve as business continuity software as well, once you establish processes around it such as hosting and access.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of business application software:
Document or CSV templates will only take you so far. Business application software gives you broader functionality and requires planners to develop their protocols within the software framework. That means you’ll be able to standardize plans and procedures more effectively.
Connects recovery procedures across the organization
When recovery plans and risk management procedures develop in silos, it’s more difficult to meet recovery time objectives. Business application software can enforce uniform processes and put everyone on the same page at the same time, which is vital in a crisis.
Integrates data across functions
Software can connect your analysis, notification, and management functions using the same data. It’s more efficient and less prone to error than managing and reporting on each of those areas separately.
Facilitates evolving plans
Over the past few years, businesses have encountered new challenges and risks associated with changes in technology and globalization. As your business continuity needs evolve, you need software that can facilitate the new initiatives quickly and efficiently.
Supports complex metrics
Managers often need access to complex reports in order to effectively plan for enterprise-level responses. An integrated, relational database gives you better access to deep data insights for those reports. The more confidence you have in the accuracy of your data, the more effective your strategy development will be.
Supports future continuity and growth
With the right software, you can plan for the business continuity needs of tomorrow as well as the requirements you have today. In other words, software provides increased agility so you can respond to organizational developments, emerging threats, and evolving compliance standards.
Of course, there are many other ways business continuity can support your long-term organizational goals. But if you’re still not convinced that software is the right option for your company—we’re talking to you, “Don’t Need It”—it may help to take a closer look at what’s on the market.
Know Your Software Options
There are four routes you can take in terms of continuity planning resources: your current office suite, a SaaS platform, package software, or a custom solution. As business continuity expert Stieven Weidner points out, each comes with pros and cons and you’ll have to carefully consider your requirements before you take the plunge.
Your Current Office Suite
The “Don’t Need It” school of that rightly contends that it’s possible to put together your own plan using your existing office suite. Though tempting as a cost-effective measure, this solution also comes with some significant disadvantages:
Advantages—This can be the most budget-friendly solution since you already have the software and data. Your staff won’t need much, if any, additional training and everyone already knows the basic processes.
Disadvantages—You won’t be able to easily generate reports or share documents, and maintenance will be challenging (imagine having to manually update thirty separate documents when a name changes). You may also run into storage and version control problems. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a legacy ERP.
SaaS solutions are taking the world by storm, because everything is hosted online and you don’t have to maintain your own infrastructure onsite.
Advantages—SaaS solutions offer impressive functionality and can be automatically upgraded to the latest version. You don’t have to install, manage, or build anything, and you’ll always have the most up-to-date technology at your fingertips.
Disadvantages—You lose a measure of control over your data. The hosting service manages security, which can be a problem for extremely sensitive information. And access can be inhibited by costly seat licenses.
A well-designed package software solution makes planning easy. It walks you through the process from start to finish and delivers uniform plans for every contingency.
Advantages—You maintain control over all your data and security. Upgrades will be fairly straightforward and your plans all have the same look and feel.
Disadvantages—This solution will cost more, since you’ll have to maintain your own servers and firewalls. And since they are designed for broad use, they may not have the flexibility you need for your particular objectives. There’s also no guarantee of timely support in a crisis, especially if your software is older.
With custom solutions, you create your own software around the needs of your organization. You can build in your own processes, design security and access protocols, and plan reporting protocols and redundancies to manage risk effectively.
Advantages—Custom solutions place all the cards in your hand. You can design them around your unique challenges, incorporate current practices, and design reports based on the information that matters most to your business culture.
Disadvantages—You may not always need a custom solution right off the bat. There are times when another option makes a better starting point financially. For example, if you’ve already purchased a package software solution, you may not have the budget to invest in a custom platform, even if the package software isn’t performing as well as you would like it to.
So how do you know which one is right for you?
One Size Never Fits All
Purchasing software is never as simple as saying “Product A always works best for all businesses in all situations all the time.” The only way to know which solution will benefit you most is to analyze, document, and test.
Assess Needs (Not Wants)
Packaged software solutions have some impressive whiz-bang capabilities. But do you really need them? Before you consider your options, perform an objective evaluation of your current needs and requirements. Talk to people who use the system and conduct brainstorming sessions to make sure you have everything on the table. Then sift through all those ideas to be sure they really are needs, not just nice-to-haves.
What is the culture of your organization? Do you have sensitive data that must be regulated? What are your security needs? What risk management and disaster recovery procedures do you already have in place?
Decide What Kind of Tool You Need
Do you need a planning tool or a crisis management tool? As you conduct your research, you’ll discover many different software options on the market, including:
* Planning templates
* Crisis management
* Event testing
* Command-center management
* Notification and communication
Consider the implementation process, specific functions, performance, and support available with each platform. Do you need an all-in-one package, or would a smaller, more targeted solution better meet your needs?
At Worthwhile, our goal is to help every organization reach its full potential with the right software. We will never pressure you into a decision you’ll regret later. We design our custom software solutions to fit your requirements, whether that’s a single app or a comprehensive platform. And even better, we can help you go from concept to clarity in six weeks, so that you can quickly determine the right software fit for your organization.
Once you complete your evaluation and research, you’ll probably find yourself lining up with either the “Don’t Need Its” or the “Gotta Have Its.” And that should put you on the right path to your ideal business continuity solution.