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|How to pick a BCM tool|
Disaster recovery and business-continuance planning has evolved into a lifecycle process that will impact every part of your organization. Business-continuance management (BCM) software tools can help you address the difficult task of preparing for and responding to operational risks. The following tips will help you select and implement a BCM tool:
Uniform disaster response
Once a disaster strikes, the BCM tool serves as an "emergency control panel" that allows response teams to access completed action plans, monitor the communication process and track the progress of recovery efforts. This functionality gives business and IT recovery teams a uniform methodology to collaborate on, for example, impact assessment, data restoration, validation of the recovered data and response team notification (most BCM tools link to standard emergency notification software packages that automatically contact key team members when issues arise).
When choosing a BCM tool, look for these fundamental features:
- The ability to automate the information technology risk-assessment process by identifying "gaps" in the business stakeholders recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) requirements, and noting where systems don't match up with requirements.
- Automatic updates to the business-continuance/disaster recovery plan. An embedded threat database should be included that allows an organization to identify region-specific disruptions such as electric utilities failures, weather, and environmental and man-made threats. This feature typically includes data collected from information sources such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- The ability to audit personnel changes and cross-reference them with assigned business recovery tasks and teams. This feature ensures that no task is at risk because an assigned emergency response member is no longer employed by the organization.
- The inclusion of a database of pre-defined recovery tasks based on industry best practices. This helps an organization accelerate the process of creating and documenting its recovery teams and plans.
- The software can reside on your local server and at a remote site. This ensures access to the tool at a time when it's most needed—during an emergency. Many BCM tool vendors offer fee-based hosting services.
By automating the process of business and IT contingency planning—as well as disaster response—BCM tools are accelerating the efforts of many organizations to develop into disaster-resilient enterprises.
This was first published in May 2006