7 Things to Consider When Using an Online BCM / DR Document Template

I recently read a trade magazine where an author noted that many of the BCM / DR templates available on line just weren’t good enough and didn’t meet the needs of those searching for them.  I don’t believe this to be correct.

There are many templates available – for free or for purchase – and each provide a unique user experience based on the industry for which if was developed.  Users develop their templates based on what they need and their goals and objectives, which aren’t the same for like-companies and industries.  What one organization is trying to accomplish may be different from another organization, thus, the template (or overall document and approach) will be different.  But if both of the organizations place their templates on line for other to use – and learn – then they are both good for use.  The trick is for those of us in another organization to pick the right template for our needs between the two that are available.

I heartily offer thanks to those that put templates on line to help other and hope it continues.  They have helped me over the years and have been great starting points.  Even today (almost 18 years later in the BCM industry), I look to see if there is a template for something on line that might help spark some ideas to build a specific type of plan or process – and not just for BCM/DR, but for Project and Program Management.  The sharing of documentation, templates and ideas over the internet is wonderful, so I strongly believe that any template that’s available is a good one; we just need to identify if it suits our needs and whether we can use it or not.  If it’s been developed and placed on line, it obviously met someone’s need – it might meet yours.

So here are a few tips when looking at templates for use in your BCM / DR program.

  1. What Works For You:  If you’re new to BCM/DR, a word or excel file may suit you’re needs, as you may not be able to utilize an expensive 3rd party application, so use what works for you.
  2. Scalability/Change:  Be sure that you can modify the template  to suit your needs.  Perhaps there are additional questions you want to include so you want to be able to add (or delete/modify) where you need to.
  3. Like-Minded Industry: Seek those templates that were developed by someone in your industry.  If you’re in the      financial services sector a template build by someone the manufacturing industry might not meet your needs.
  4. Keep it Simple:       Sometimes the simplest template is the easiest to get you started and is usually has the ability to be changed (as noted above).  So don’t get something that requires you to waste time and resources trying to figure out how it works.
  5. Supported:       I don’t mean by the person that created it but supported by a common application (i.e. Word, Excel etc).       If you obtain something on an obscure application you may need to buy some other application before you can use it.
  6. Fit for Purpose:       Don’t buy a template for a BIA and then change it for something else.  If it was made for a BIA,      that’s all that its going to be able to do, not suddenly be perfect for a Risk Analysis; that’s not what it was developed for.
  7. Formatting:       It might be simple but if the template if full of formatting problems and spelling mistkes it might not be a good template for use.  I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it cover but in this case…

Sharing our knowledge and practices is what moves us all forward, not just the industry itself.  Just remember to do your homework and look into the templates you come across.  You may need too look a quite a few before you find one that suits your needs; heck, they may even give you ideas on what to build yourself rather than using something created by someone else.

To paraphrase an old saying, ‘everything free is good’  so if you find something that helps you, there can’t be too much wrong with it.  😉

© StoneRoad (Stone Road Inc) 2012

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by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3

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