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Spring Journal

Volume 31, Issue 1

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I recently read an article, describing the many benefits derived from the utilization of specialized BCP software packages. These are the packages designed by motivated DR consultants who bring their real-world point of view to the software. Those planners have been able to design software packages that contain many of the bells and whistles which any contingency planner may want to use:

- Resource tables which utilize pick lists
- Concurrent updates to the recovery plan
- The ability to access recovery plans, over the web, and to update them from home
- Creation of custom reports
- An integrated BIA
- Resource tables and allocation
- Easily import large documents from multiple software packages

To provide these feature functions, the foundation for the advanced BCP software is a planning database. Using the BCP software, the user then develops and accesses their recovery plan on a PC, LAN, WAN or on the web via the intranet or internet.

Almost all experienced continuity planners know that the development of complex BCP plans cannot be accomplished utilizing just word processing techniques. In fact, as the article accurately states, 'your trusty word processing software isn't good enough'. And that is entirely true, for maybe 5% of the companies that are large, complex, have multiple locations, employ a thousand or more people and have a full (or even part time) recovery planner. These are the sites that need advanced planning techniques and advanced software.

However, for the other 95% of the businesses, corporation, government agencies, subsidiaries, schools, credit unions, smaller banks, etc., word based BCP programs are useful. These entities have one or two locations, employ 30, 50, 100, 300 or maybe 500 people. These types of businesses are maturing, and have developed an awareness for the need for a recovery plan. They want a simple and straight forward plan that will provide them with guidance in the development of basic team plans that they need. They do not have a recovery planner on staff to utilize advanced BCP software, and in fact, do not need those advanced features. They have a limited budget. They run thin on staff and do not have time to train on a database product. They simply want the protection and comfort a recovery plan has to offer and will implement one only if it is relatively simple and cost justifiable.

Unless an affordable solution is available, a recovery plan will not be developed. And, without a recovery plan, they leave both their business and themselves exposed and at risk.

This is where the Word based BCP recovery plan fits. It's an affordable solution offered at less than $1,000. It is a time tested process, that when designed properly will not compromise on the quality of the end product, or an actual recovery. For these smaller companies, in the event of an emergency, a properly developed and maintained Word based recovery plan will function just as well as a database recovery plan. If ever needed, the Word based recovery plan will enable the company to recover, get back in business, expand and eventually grow. As they grow in size they can hire a full time recovery planner, who may then need an advanced BCP package. At that time the recovery planner can use almost 100% of the Word based plan information and import it to the advanced BCP software package they may then want to purchase.

The reality is, there is a need for both the proven, time tested and straight forward Word based BCP, and the advanced BCP software. The smaller companies need an easy to learn, easy to use and cost justifiable solution to start them on their way to disaster recovery planning. The large companies need advanced BCP software, have the experienced recovery planning staff to use it and can afford the capital expenditure.

Without question, any company that produces BCP software will agree to two things:

1) Every business needs a contingency and/or recovery plan. For a business with a few people it could be backs ups and documentation sent offsite, and a few pages of emergency procedures and contingency plans. The small to medium size business has grown to where it needs to use recovery team plans, Word or database driven. And the large companies need advanced software planning tools. The point is, every company should have a recovery plan in place.
2) When developing a disaster recovery or continuity plan, the most cost effective method is to use BCP software. The approach is simpler, quicker and more organized than developing it on your own.

As an experienced planner I've used advance BCP software in plan development for many medium and large companies. This type of software was required due to the complexity of the recovery plan development. In fact, it would have been difficult to do so without it. On the other side, I've also used Word based recovery planning software for smaller business entities, and that process worked just fine. On one occasion, I used both types of software as it fit the requirements of the organization. The truth is, you need to select the software that meets your business requirements and objectives, and that fits within your corporate budget.

The need for BCP software is greater than ever. To meet that demand, various companies produce quality software packages which are offered at a wide range of prices. Each BCP software company has a unique software offering, each one tailored for a specific market. Although I am employed by BRProactive, a Word based BCP software company, I strongly encourage you to evaluate the various software offerings and only then to select the software that will meet your needs.

Norm Koehler, a Certified Recovery Planner (CRP), has over 20 years of experience in disaster recovery planning. He has written and tested recovery plans for dozens of companies, including several in the Fortune 500. In 1997 he founded BRProactive, Inc. (www.brproactive.com), a company that provides recovery plan development software.