Avoid Iceberg Pricing: Limiting Numbers of BCP Software Users Can Spell Trouble

Anyone who has ever used a Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) knows that having access for your business, IT, and executive planners is essential for two critical reasons:

  1. YOUR SYSTEM MAY INHIBIT DATA GATHERING AND ANALYSIS: You need quite a bit of data from many sources in your organization in order to formulate your BCP. While meeting with all users is fantastic, it simply is not feasible—even in the smallest of organizations. Even though your BCMS is supposed to streamline this activity, limiting users can do the exact opposite. It FORCES YOU to gather data by going directly to the user or utilizing outside methods (e.g. spreadsheets or external survey tools). This requires extensive work outside the BCMS.
  1. YOU CANNOT USE YOUR SYSTEM DURING A DISASTER: The mission of business continuity management is to assist your organization during a disaster. However, if people cannot access the BCMS, what good can it do? A limited number of users forces you to communicate via proxy. Non-users must then call users to exchange information on both the disaster and recovery. If a designated user is not available—which may frequently be the case—this further limits recovery capabilities. While it may seem incomprehensible that BCMS could inhibit your ability to communicate and recover, this is what happens in real-life.

If a limited number of users is so bad, why do BCMS vendors continue to offer it? Many vendors have to offer limited users because of the platform and software design. Transactional platforms such as Salesforce require software providers to charge on a per-user basis. While appropriate for sales, it does not work for business continuity. Other BCMS vendors utilize third-party software and are required to charge. Such requirements place additional limits on the platform.

Cost is an additional component of per-user pricing. Many companies will limit their programs to meet certain cost structures. The immediate effects are the problems with plan development and use described above. The long-term effects are also crippling. Once planners realize they need more users, costs immediately rise. Controlling long-term costs is difficult at best. For the reasons outlined above, it should never be part of BCMS planning. BCMS vendors have actually have named this trick “Iceberg Pricing.” This is essentially a long-term bait-and-switch where vendors get their foot in the door with a low price—only to charge a higher one years later.

Don’t let vendor tricks or the short-comings of a BCMS create additional overhead and inhibit your ability to recover. Start with a BCMS that offers unlimited users and go from there.

You can also conduct a 5-point evaluation of business continuity planning and risk management software for resilience, compliance, and competitiveness.

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