Packaged software: The main advantages to a well-designed software package are that it guides your planners through the process; creates plans with a similar look and feel; and streamlines plan maintenance. Many software packages also include the ability to generate reports, and may support other tasks with Incident Command and Notification functions, to name a few.
The main disadvantages are the cost and the potential for the software to be somewhat limiting or inflexible for a company's particular needs.
As a national healthcare organization with a very complex environment, we clearly needed a software product. We spent approximately six months investigating new BC/DR software packages and quickly learned that some of the less established companies provided some of the best software available. We leveraged an independent research firm's product briefs, the vendor's own product information, and recommendations from my peers to quickly narrow our list. We then gathered a small task group comprising of myself and a few other users who tested the products and graded each one in the following four categories:
- Performance, and
The benefit of using this process was that the winner quickly bubbled to the top and the users already had product "buy-in." It was early in the budget cycle, so I developed and presented an ROI comparison matrix comparing the BC/DR program with and without the selected software tool.
The tool was the clear winner and my leaders added it into the following year's budget.
Moving ahead a few years: I now work for a small consulting firm where many of our clients, both established and new, are facing these same decisions as they embark on their own BC/DR programs. As I start guiding my clients through their program development, I have come to realize that each solution has a place in our industry. If you are a large organization with a very complex environment, a well-organized software package will most likely provide great benefit over trying to do everything with your office suite. Many large companies have to deal with multi-state and/or global facilities. A good software package can help organize this environment and even provide a snapshot of the entire company's current recovery state.
[Also read 5 ways to build your BC/DR business case]
On the other hand, if your company is small or medium in size or has a less complex environment (i.e., only a few departments or facilities), the use of pre-packaged software may not be as beneficial. In fact, the time, effort, and even the outputs--impressive as they may be--probably are not really necessary. Still, if your company is part of a regulated industry, the ability to print reports and provide clean, well-organized plans might make a package worth the investment.
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