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Using Microsoft Office for your business continuity and disaster recovery plans? 5 reasons why you shouldn’t.

I guess using Microsoft Office for documenting your business continuity and disaster recovery plans is an easy decision. After all, Microsoft tells us that 1.1 billion people use Office. That’s 1 person in 7 on the entire planet! It’s a no-brainer. You don’t even have to think about it, do you?

Just had a call about a disaster at work?

Just had a call about a disaster at work?

But let’s take a moment and think about it. Business continuity and disaster recovery plans are built out of procedures and data, typically written by several, if not many, people in your organization. Using Microsoft Word and sometimes Excel, your people create many files and store them on their own hard drives, your shared drives or maybe even SharePoint.  As your business continuity management program matures, the files are hopefully updated as your business changes – different people updating many files stored in different locations.

So here are 5 reasons why MS Office might not be the best way to document your business continuity program:

  1. Access.  When it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and you’ve just had a call that Godzilla has stepped on your office building, do you have the time to figure out which MS Office files you need right now? Do you have the time or even the ability to search through folders on your own laptop, on the shared drives (if they are available after Godzilla did his thing) or on SharePoint (again with thanks to Godzilla)??
  2. Version Control.  With 17 different files from a variety of storage locations, how do you know you have all of the latest and, therefore, most likely to be accurate files? Bob in IT might have updated the phone list and stored it in a different spot than Mary in HR who also made some updates to the same list.
  3. Accuracy.  You don’t know if all files have been maintained regularly. There is no easy way to track updates to those many files comprising your program. You don’t know if Maria has changed the payroll recovery procedure to reflect the new payroll provider you have started to use.
  4. Consistency.   When you begin building your business continuity management program, every department starts out with an MS Word template for their critical procedures and data. Over time, the departmental plans can start to diverge in format and content. Your plans will not look the same and will not work the same. It’s entirely possible that uninformed staff maintaining plans will delete sections they don’t understand or think they need.
  5. Monitoring. With multiple files in multiple storage locations, it will be very difficult for you to monitor how your program is doing. Your program can only do well if those updating the files do it when necessary.  If you have to search for each file in different locations to check just the last modified date, your program will bog down.  And even then, you won’t be able to tell who has changed what and when. Your auditors won’t be very happy with you.

While Word and Excel are easy choices for your business continuity management program, they introduce logistical problems that grow quickly with time. Better to choose an Internet-based content management service or a wiki. Anything that lets multiple users manage procedures and data at the same time in the same place.

Written by Michael


  1. This is very insightful and on the money! And office 365 suffered considerable downtime last year, (office 362) without BCP themselves.

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