Even with proven efficiencies and time- and cost-savings benefits, organizations of all sizes can be hesitant to adopt new software platforms, including business continuity management software (BCMS) solutions.
That’s because historically these solutions were costly to purchase, complicated to implement, and difficult to use—or, at the very least, didn’t make employees feel like they were getting value from the expense and hassle.
Because of that, many companies still use general office tools, such word processing programs and spreadsheet applications, to build or supplement their business continuity programs.
In the 2019 Assurance Business Continuity Benchmark Study, two-thirds of organizations said they use a commercial or custom system for business continuity, but 4 out of 5 indicated they also still use standard office applications.
Dependence—and reluctance to move away—from these products is often complicated by misconceptions about modern BC software solutions, such as:
- The software will be too hard for staff to use, so I’m wasting my time and money.
- Why implement your platform if I’m going to have to still do manual imports and exports of data with my existing office products anyway?
- Who can afford it?
- I don’t need all those bells and whistles, so we’ll just do what we’ve always done.
- I don’t have the IT staff to implement a new software system for our company.
But the reality is, just because you can type up a plan in a word processing program or chart out a path on a spreadsheet, office products don’t offer the same benefits, flexibility, scalability, actionability, support, or peace of mind your organization can get with an industry leading, expert-backed business continuity platform.
Limitations of Using Static Spreadsheets for Business Continuity
When it comes to your business continuity program, let’s look at some drawbacks of using those standard word processing programs and old-school spreadsheets:
No plan consistency or uniformity
Standard office products make it difficult for you to create uniform, consistent plans.
Even if you give your teams templates to start with, they can easily change them and make alterations that dilute your intent. It’s kind of like the old telephone game where the words the first person says come out differently at the end of the communication exchange.
Business continuity platforms provide guidance to help you build your overall BC program, as well as related business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plans.
These platforms can guide you through industry-standard processes to ensure your plans are complete, thorough, and specific to your organizational requirements. And if you have questions—about your plans, processes, or the software—a business continuity advisor can point you in the right direction, provide clarity, and keep your program moving forward.
Loss of Data integrity
You may have done this before… you’re busy working on a document, maybe hours or days or more have been poured into it… and just as you’re about to finish, you make one wrong click and it all vanishes.
Or the file gets corrupted. Or someone accesses the file who shouldn’t. Or, in an attempt to help, a colleague changes or deletes your original content and you can’t get it back to your original data point.
What do you do? In many cases, you just have to start over.
Business continuity software programs eliminate the fear of lost data. With redundant backups and security, you can be more confident your data is safe and ready when you need it.
Manual entries and human error
If you’re building your BC and DR plans in static documents, you’re creating opportunities for human error. Whether a team member is manually inputting data or you’re importing and exporting files from one system to another, you’re adding risk to your organization because of an increased opportunity for mistakes.
Business continuity software can decrease the chance of human error. With integrations for many of the core applications and programs your organization uses each day, the data you need can be automatically pulled into your BC plans, reducing the time and effort of manual entries or repetitive tasks so you can trust your data.
No analytics or reports
Static documents create a wealth a challenges for analyzing data and reporting on it.
- If each person within your team builds a spreadsheet or word document for each component of your BC program, how do you get comprehensive insight into your performance?
- Where are your success metrics?
- How do you analyze them?
- How can you present an overview of your program and plan success to your team members and key stakeholders in simple ways they can understand?
- Have an audit? How will you pull reports and information needed, quickly, accurately, and on time?
Business continuity software makes insight into your program success simple—from metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to audit support and related financial data. Your BC software should come out-of-the-box with common reports and insight, but you should also be able to work with your BC advisors to create customized reports to ensure data you need is always easy to access when you need it.
Here are some other ways static documents create challenges for business continuity program management:
- Organizational-wide changes can be difficult and time consuming to implement consistently across all plans.
- For example, let’s say you have an address and phone number change for your company. With spreadsheets and word processing programs, your team members have to painstakingly update all the files—sometimes hundreds of them—with this new information. Business continuity software, however, can automate that task for you with a few simple keystrokes.
- Static documents don’t encourage innovative thinking and instead promote a culture of “let’s keep doing it the way we’ve always done.”
- It’s challenging to do an accurate BIA or risk analysis to support your plans.
- It’s difficult (or impossible) to access important data and plans on the go. If your BC plans are filed away in a spreadsheet on a server, how do you get to it during an incident that may prevent you from accessing that database? Mobile access to BC software can ensure your plans are in the right team members’ hands, at the right time, when you need them.
- In times of a crisis or disaster, static documents make it nearly impossible to successfully communicate about task assignments and related notifications when tasks are complete.
- Static documents silo your data and make it difficult to promote organizational-wide collaboration.
- If you can’t get a full picture of your plans and processes in a single dashboard (like you can with business continuity software), how can you discover gaps in your plans or weaknesses?
- Unlike BCMS, word processing documents and spreadsheets make it difficult for your team members to access the data they need to make timely and accurate risk-informed decisions.
- Without dedicating hours or days or weeks to spreadsheet analyzation, how do you quantify your program’s ROI?
- How do you align to industry and regulatory standards in word processing document? BC platforms are built based on industry standards. Many have done compliance and regulatory research for you. That means you can more easily align your program to industry standards. That can be further supplemented by working closely with a BC advisor.
Other Benefits of Business Continuity Software
Business continuity software can also help you see the big picture of your BC program, including insight into three core components that will make your BC program stronger:
- Data Health
- Discover and address employee changes, duplicate records, and data relationships across multiple applications, processes, hardware, locations, and vendors
- System Health
- Evaluate impact assessments, plan templates, and custom information, as well as user access history.
- Program Health
- Get visibility into plan, exercise, and approval history; gap analysis of recovery-time-objectives (RTO) across processes, applications, hardware, and vendors, across your organization.
Make the Switch
Are you ready to file away your word processing documents and stop staring at hundreds of fields in spreadsheets?
Assurance will ensure your team members—and all of your key stakeholders—have the accurate and timely data they need, when they need it, so they can make better informed decisions to keep your organization protected and responsive for events that may disrupt your day-to-day operations.
Over time, the move away from static documents to the full benefits of a BC platform will improve employee performance, save your organization time and resources, and dramatically improve your resilience.
Want to see Assurance in action? Watch our on-demand demo now:
Topics: Business Continuity
Written by Assurance Software
Assurance Software takes your company’s enterprise-wide business continuity and resiliency program to the next level. With Assurance as your go-to partner for continuity and resilience, you can confidently mitigate risk, manage recovery, and safeguard your employees, customers, operations and brands.