This week I want to write about something that you are probably not thinking about in these lazy days of summer: disaster recovery planning (DRP). Last time I checked disasters do not follow the calendar, weather related hazards aside. They can happen anytime, even when you are on vacation and not thinking about work. If a disaster were to strike your business, do you have a plan in place and does everyone know how to execute it? If not, this is a tickler to make that a priority. Here are some tips on how to build a plan and keep it current.
First of all, you need to understand your most important business processes. This is an exercise not only for IT, but also for finance and accounting, marketing, manufacturing, and operations. In the event of a disaster, many people would argue that payroll should be restored first. Others would argue that customer facing processes should come first. Finally, others would argue that manufacturing should come first since without active inventory there is nothing to sell to the customers and therefore no revenue to fund the paychecks. Each business is different but the key is to decide what processes should be recovered first, second, and third, and everyone should be in agreement.
Drafting the Plan
Just as important as deciding the sequence of process recovery is writing and publishing the plan. What components go into a good plan? I recently came across a template that will help you draft your first plan or help you validate your current plan to make sure that you have all of the components necessary. It is important to get a peer review on this document to make sure that all agree on the necessary steps to recovery.
Once drafted and written, don’t let your plan become “shelfware,” never to see the light of day again. It is important that this document be reviewed on a regular basis. Your organization is dynamic and this document needs to reflect that. I have found that it is best to tie this review to other regular updates in your business. For example, when you are budgeting for the next fiscal year, why not review the DR to see what has changed in the last year or the last six months? What is about to change based on your proposed budget? Be proactive with the DR plan.
A disaster recovery plan is one component of a good business continuity plan. It outlines the first steps of how you are going to operate your business for a prolonged period while recovering from an outage, whether due to a storm or your customer-facing web page going offline. It is important to think carefully about how you are going to come back from that adversity. The worst time to develop a plan is in the middle of a disaster.
Take a minute this summer to review your plan with your team. When disaster strikes, you will be glad you did.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at nigh