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Ten tips for choosing the right business continuity planning tools

Before you choose your business continuity planning tools, consider the following:

  1. Inadequate security – some companies, such as government agencies, must work with solutions that reside on their own network for security and control reasons, working through an intranet rather that the Internet.
  2. Financial imbalance – Take a look at the tool provider’s financials and, even if the tools are great, if you think the provider is small enough to be an acquisition target or that they may not have staying power, choose another vendor.
  3. Database incompatibility – If you use a different database to store your information you’ll want to consider carefully if you are willing to transfer all that information to a new system. How will you keep it up to date? What if something happens and you need to take your data back, can you manage that?
  4. Organizational support – If you suspect that your organization may need more support than usual, you’ll want a larger supplier to ensure you get all the support you need.
  5. Backup systems – How essential is a backup plan to your organization? If the vendor’s backup plan isn’t as strong as that required by your company, keep looking.
  6. System interoperability – Does the vendor’s system talk to your system? Can you sync the two up with minimal effort? These are important details to know ahead of time.
  7. Reputation – This should be a show-stopper for everyone. Ask for references in your industry, talk to colleagues at industry shows and events. If someone has a solution that they think is pretty good, but it turns out they’re afraid to actually try it out because it seems complicated, take that as a negative reference.
  8. Contract terms – Sometimes contract terms can be too restrictive for your organization, especially in the case of a hosted solution. Once the solution is deployed, how often is the contract renewed? Many contracts are month-to-month, some are year-to-year, or in some cases, contracts can tie you into a multi-year relationship with no chance to reevaluate along the way.
  9. Database ownership – Will you own and maintain your own data or will your vendor? If you want to regain the data, how quickly can that be transferred? Will it cost you additional money? In what form will it be delivered? Certification levels, like SAS 70, means you’ll have a much lower chance of being audited, saving tremendous amounts of time and resources.
  10. Your gut – How do you and your team feel about the tool and the company behind it? Besides the perks they may offer, what’s the sense of the company behind the products?