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Electronic business continuity is the future

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As more companies recognise the need for business continuity management (BCM), ContinuitySA and Cura Software Solutions have taken traditional methods of continuity to a new level with the development of an electronic business continuity solution.

The two companies have created an application that guides and educates companies through the process of planning, designing and rolling out their BCM programmes. The difference is that all data is stored electronically instead of on paper, making it easier to collate and disseminate the plans to a broad audience.
Although the application has been designed to be used on its own, it can also be integrated into Cura’s software suite and used in conjunction with their GRC (governance, risk management and compliance) modules.
Karen Humphris, consultant at ContinuitySA, says the benefits of electronic BCM are as powerful as a well-designed continuity strategy itself. She offers the following five benefits businesses will attain by converting to electronic BCM:
* Consistency – an electronic programme ensures every BCM operation is based on the same set of requirements and methodologies, and delivers a consistent BCM process throughout the organisation.
* Dynamic – information can be dynamically managed and maintained from multiple locations, as long as the users have the appropriate authorisation.
* Analysis – analysing data from a business intelligence perspective is easier, faster and more efficient when the information is stored electronically, instead of forcing users to wade through piles of paper.
* Accessibility – using a hosting function (such as cloud computing) or a Web-based approach ensures that crucial information is available from any location and at any time, even during a disaster.
* Green – reducing the amount of paper used by changing to an electronic format will support green initiatives within the organisation and assist in reducing its carbon footprint.
The application is configurable to each business’s requirements. It provides options to input various risk criteria, risk levels, specific dependencies and so forth.
Furthermore, the software guides users through a thorough business impact analysis (BIA) of the organisation, incorporating process dependency linking and a risk assessment. The BIA is done on a business unit basis and captures all the relevant details and business processes of the department.
The impact analysis incorporates dependency criterion for each process (such as technology, people, suppliers or documentation). All processes must be assessed on the same basis to ensure a valid overview is generated and inter-dependencies discovered.
Having completed the first two steps, the system focuses on formulating a BCM strategy for the organisation and the development of a definitive framework. Using this, the application helps customers develop effective strategic, operational and tactical responses to emergencies.
The strategic plan is a high-level plan, including items such as corporate crisis communications plans. The tactical plans link and co-ordinate all the plans developed into a cohesive, focused drive to get the business up and running in the sequence desired when disaster strikes. The operational plans focus on the recovery and resumption of each of the business units.
Humphris says the application will be launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town in May this year after extensive beta testing is complete.