Disaster recovery conjures images of human suffering, widespread chaos and emergency teams scrambling to assist victims. The term however is a misnomer as “Disaster recovery (DR) involves a set of policies and procedures to enable the recovery or continuation of vital technology infrastructure and systems following a natural or human-induced disaster”. Disaster recovery plans are important tools in recovering from a disruptive event and need to be well written, thought-out, exercised and enforced. I have come across many instances of disaster recovery plans being outdated and ineffective. Do not fall into the trap of procrastination. No matter where you are in the world, disasters can and do wreak havoc.
What does a well-constructed disaster recovery plan include?
Recovering from a disaster is likened to a battle against time, threats and inconvenience. In the throes of chaos and confusion you may find yourself in dire straits if you are not adequately prepared and equipped.
The contents of a disaster recovery plan
Your disaster recovery plan needs to be well constructed, simple and practical. There are, however, a few essential elements which I will touch on:
- The scenario: The scenario describes the specific situation eg. mail server outage. The reason is that a more generic plan eg. Server outage would not necessarily be adequate in a specific context such as mail server outage.
- The scope and objectives: The scope describes what the plan covers eg. Which departments will be affected. The objectives need to be clearly defined as the plan is essentially the roadmap to an outcome or objective.
- The recovery strategy: This is the actual gist of the plan and the detailed set of steps needed to perform the recovery.
- The recovery teams: These comprise of all role-players from IT personnel to vendors: basically anyone who performs an action or has a vested interest in the plan including the compliance officer.
- The maintenance and testing schedule: Essential to the plan being current and workable is testing and rehearsing. This ensures that the role-players are well drilled and informed and will be better equipped not to crack under pressure.
- Contact numbers: Contact numbers are an essential part of a plan.You should not have to scrounge around for numbers.
- Critical entities: Critical assets, personnel, vendors and services need to be listed in the plan.
- Alternate locations: Alternate locations are offices that one can relocate to in the event of a far-reaching disaster.
Kaizen or ongoing improvement should be an essential part of one’s life. In a world that is advancing too fast you do not want to find yourself lagging behind by not constantly improving and getting better. Review and improve your disaster recovery plans constantly. In fact, set up a calendar for that and other critical operations again. Use cloud technology in creating your disaster recovery plans. The advantages are many-fold. A data driven world demands that you keep moving with it. Make sure that your disaster recovery plans have the essential components in it and are tested correctly so that when disaster strikes, you can get up and running as soon as possible.
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