BCP Documentation – Keep It Simple & Uniform
For those of you that have taken the time and spent real dollars to develop your business continuity plan here is a tough question for you. How usable would that plan be at-time-of-event? As I travel from prospect to prospect or conduct plan audits for small to medium sized organizations there seems to be a common thread between those that have chosen to use specialized business continuity planning software. That common thread is “frustration”. Most indicate it has proven to be more of a hindrance then a help — especially during an event.
Ask yourself the following questions. What does the content of your documentation reveal? How is the document organized? Can you (or someone other than the planner) follow the defined path for response, resumption and recovery? Just how effective would the documentation be if you actually had to utilize it?
I once had an consultant from one of the larger insurance organizations define the use of specialized business continuity planning software by small and medium sized organizations to develop their plan documentation, “like hunting squirrels with an elephant gun.” You really only need to develop basic documentation – a team roster, employee information, basic tasks and responsibilities, internal and external contact information, and some basic information regarding your resource needs. Word and Excel and other like tools work great for developing “exactly” what you need at-time-of-event. By keeping the documentation simple and uniform for your team(s) and business units it will ensure usability. Years ago I saw a quote in Computerworld regarding business continuity plans – “Business continuity plans that are generated by people within the department with known software like MS Word or Excel have proven to be more successful in a real disaster.” There are pros and cons for each solution – you need to determine what works best for you and your organization.
If you are just beginning the planning process and analyzing how you will document the process ask yourself — should I use specialized business continuity planning software or something more “friendly” to ensure plan viability. Choose the one that will work best for you and your organization. A well organized, yet simple plan document can save a lot of time when it’s needed!
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