Business continuity planning – an important aspect of any business’ risk management strategy. It’s vital that businesses can operate in any condition and that they won’t be affected by disasters. One of the steps in implementing a successful protection strategy involves working out whether to use software or templates to create, manage, and communicate the plan.

The decision between templates and software can be a tough one to make, as whichever one you choose, you’ll be using and relying on for a long time. To help you we’ve covered some pros and cons on both choices. Standards like ISO 22301:2012 and even ISO 27001 contain specific provisions that can be met by either choice.

Using Software

If you choose to go with a software program, you will be walked through the whole process allowing you to develop a usable plan. Another benefit of using software is that you’ll be able to develop reports if needs be.

The drawbacks of using software include cost, inflexibility and learning time. For the most part, business continuity planning software is not cheap, and at times can be inflexible due to limits within the program. If you have a niche need, the software may not cover it. In addition, as with mastering any program, the learning curve can be quite steep. Many BC software providers charge steep fees to keep up (updates) with International standards such as ISO 22301.

In general, using software would be advantageous for companies that have a bigger budget for the development of a continuity plan. Software is also a good bet if you don’t have staff who are experts in continuity planning, or if you operate in an industry where a continuity plan is necessary, e.g., companies working with healthcare insurance, or manufacturing companies that have introduced ISO 9000 or its contemporaries.

Using Templates

If you feel that your company is not ready, or would not benefit from the advantages, of a BC software package,  you can use templates to help you develop your plan. These templates are simply written plans that can be adapted to meet your business needs. They’re useful if you’re just starting to do continuity planning, as they provide a normally solid foundation, and are generally much less expensive than software.

A limitation to using templates is that they can be too basic at times, and may not meet your (or your industry’s) needs. Granted, most plans will follow a basic structure and you can readily modify them to make them more regionally or industry relevant.

As each industry is different, it’s hard to make a recommendation on what type of planning style every company should take. We recommend you take your time, do your due diligence,  and weigh out what’s best for your business. Using standards like those published by FINRA, SEC, FFIEC, or ISO is an excellent place to begin. Time spent up-front ensuring alignment and coverage of whatever standard  to your specific needs is extremely beneficial. Equally, spending the time in the plan’s development ensuring that it is easy to implement and that others (not just you) can follow it is a critical planning component.

We’ve built and executed hundreds (maybe more) of BCP exercises and plans. Ranging from very small organizations to large national enterprises, we have a wide range of experience to pull from. Our standards-based approach to planning and policy design have withstood the test of time as evidenced by the durability of the BC/DR plans we’ve implemented through generations of business technology. If you’d like to get started or just freshen-up your BC or DR plan, please connect with us! We’d love to share the benefit of hundreds of years of combined experience with you. It’s a call that could literally save your business.

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