On business continuity software...

Published 4 October 2006

Systems can be effective, but experts warn they require a lot of upfront work; organizing data across divisions takes time and executives must be aware of ongoing upkeep responsibilities

The market for business continuity software has exploded over the past few years, but the number of products available present executives with the choice paradox: the larger the number of options, the less likely it is that any will be chosen. Even when a product is selected, the headaches are only beginning because the tools available require a large amount of manpower just to input the information neccesary to achieve meaningful results. All manner of spreadsheets, databases, and personnel information must be located, organzied, and then somehow incorporated, a tedious task that few would wish upon themselves. Nevertheless, responsible business practices require that companies take business continuity seriously, and software is one of the best ways to get started.

Each company in the business continuity software business approaches the input side in a slightly different way. Strohl Systems’ LDRPS (Living Disaster Recovery Planning System), includes “plan navigators” that guide planners step by step through a logical sequence of business continuity planning tasks. The company also offers templates tailored for banking and finance, call centers, commercial insurance, and information technology businesses. SunGard’s Paragon system for its part guides planners through the business continuity planning process and includes a vast library of questions for business unit surveys. Paragon’s approach also breaks down tasks by business unit, allowing each to enter its own information and permitting the system to map out relationships among business processes, departments, facilities, applications, and underlying servers and infrastructure.

Executives interested in purchasing continuity software should also keep in mind that, in addition to a heavy time investment on the front end, to be effective such systems require constant monitoring and upgrade. As with any business product, their effectiveness will rest in large part on the attention to detail the business is willing to invest.

-read more in Leon Erlanger’s CIO Today discussion