New Options For Business Continuity Management Software

Stephanie Balaouras

With SunGard's acquisition of Strohl Systems, it would seem that the options for business continuity management software have dwindled. While SunGard will continue to support both Paragon and LDRPS, LDRPS will be its go forward platform. This leaves the main challengers, COOP Systems, eBRP, and OfficeShadow and lesser known vendors such as Business Protection Systems International (BPSI), CPACS, KingsBridge (formerly Binomial), and a few others. COOP Systems has gained a lot of momentum in recent months, in September, IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (BCRS) selected COOP Systems as its strategic partner for BCM software.

But there are new options emerging from governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) vendors. For example, Archer Technologies has added a business continuity management module to its GRC SmartSuite Framework. I recently saw a demo of the offering and I found it to be intuitive and comprehensive. It's also closely aligned with the British Standard for Business Continuity Management, BS 25999. I also recently met with MetricStream, they have also added a BCM module to their GRC platform. Provided that you've already purchased the core GRC platform from one of these vendors, buying the BCM module is significantly less expensive that buying or subscribing to a tier 1 stand-alone BCM offering. Tier 1 offerings start at US$100K and average sales prices can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The add-on modules to these GRC platforms will start between $30K-$50K.

I also recently met with Protiviti Consulting, a firm that specializes in risk consulting services. Protiviti offers PACEmaker which stands for Planning and Continuity Executed. The service is built on the backbone of myCOOP from COOP Systems and is hosted by COOP Systems. Protiviti offers the service as part of BCM consulting and advisory services.

All three of these GRC focused vendors claim that their existing customers demanded they offer BC related services and software. Overall, the entrance of these vendors is a positive trend. First, competition is always good for end-users. Second, if the vendors’ claims are true, it means that more companies are taking BCM seriously. And finally, I believe there is a benefit to more closely aligning BCM with enterprise risk management. My colleague, Chris McClean, and I recently wrote about the benefits of more closely aligning BC, IT disaster recovery and IT security to improve overall business resiliency. This is just a first step towards improving resiliency. The next step is to more closely align these domains with enterprise risk management.

There are some considerations that companies should be aware of with these new BCM offerings. First, the MetricStream offering is a premise-based deployment, it’s not hosted. In my experience in the BCM space, companies prefer a hosted service. You don’t want a BC plan for your BC plans; you want to be able to get to them from any desktop or laptop with a browser and Internet access. Second, the Archer and MetricStream offerings have some emergency communication capabilities, but they don't compare to the capabilities and reliability of hosted enterprise-class emergency communication services from providers such as 3N, Dell MessageOne, MIR3, SendWordNow, or Varolii. These emergency communication vendors can integrate their services with the BCM software from all the major players (SunGard LDPRS and Paragon, COOP Systems, eBRP, Office Shadow etc.). But then again, I don’t think it would take much for Archer Technologies or MetricStream to integrate with these vendors.

I'm interested in your feedback. Do you think it makes sense to implement a BCM application as a standalone product or as a module within a broader GRC suite? Are the benefits of tying BC to risk management and compliance efforts substantial enough to warrant a collaborative approach?

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Comments

re: New Options For Business Continuity Management Software

Ultimately a BCM application is a module of a GRC application, however more consolidation will need to occur for that to be realized.One thing we have learned from our customers is the place they want their BCP plan is on their hip. Internet access is required for an employee to be able to access their plan from anywhere with all these software packages. Our customers have told us they want their employees to have plans with them at all times, and the only secure way to do that today is by storing them on BlackBerry smartphones, since that is what people have on their hip. The key value proposition is that users always have updated plans and contact info on their BlackBerry, and can access it regardless on network connectivity. No binders, no CD's and no memory sticks. They can also PIN blast each other from their device is their servers are unavailable.Having your plans mobile means you can incorporate testing and the exercising of your BCP plan with tools your staff use everyday.

re: New Options For Business Continuity Management Software

Software or Dinosaur?Forrester declares there are, “New Options for Business Continuity Management Software.” Are the ERM applications mentioned really new options? Or, are these new names really just the same old dinosaur in new packaging?

re: New Options For Business Continuity Management Software

The ERM/GRC software offerings aren't new but the BCM modules are new additions to these offerings. Given SunGard's acquistion of Strohl, any new entrants or options in this market is welcome news. Strohl dominated the market with 50% share, SunGard Paragon had a 25% share and the remaining 25% was split between 4-6 players like COOP Systems,eBRP, Office Shadow etc.I've always been surprised that BCM software or services haven't been more pervasive in enterprises. But then again, it's hard to build the business case for BC/DR period, let alone justify the investment in a management tool. And frankly, the existing offerings are far to expensive. I talk with customers on a daily basis that struggle with not just managing BCM, but just documenting their BCPs. There is a need for a management offering that provides essential plan templates and plan components, keeps plans in a central repository, establishes consistency across the organization. I want to see investment in and use of these offerings, but the vendors need to bring the price down significantly and offering "express consulting" services that can help companies get started quickly.

re: New Options For Business Continuity Management Software

One correction on the MetricStream products for business continuity - we do have a hosted offering. In fact several of our large enterprise customers leverage our hosted model for their solution needs.

re: New Options For Business Continuity Management Software

HI,Business continuity has evolved into a whole-of-company practice that demands executive-level governance and management.But many enterprises still consider business continuity an IT problem.

re: New Options For Business Continuity Management Software

It provides a framework for the successful management of design, build, test and roll-out (deploy) projects within an overall aim from inner layer of co:RegardsSBL Software