Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan Steps

Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR) are the watchwords of businesses in the Information Technology (IT) world. The predominant role of Wide Area Networks (WANs) in almost all major fields of business has made it an imperative for IT and Network managers across the globe to accelerate their network infrastructure, and also devise workable BC/DR plans.

The primary objective of a Disaster Recovery plan (a.k.a. Business Continuity plan) is the description of how an organization has to deal with potential natural or human-induced disasters. The disaster recovery plan steps that every enterprise incorporates as part of business management includes the guidelines and procedures to be undertaken to effectively respond to and recover from disaster recovery scenarios, which adversely impacts information systems and business operations. Plan steps that are well-constructed and implemented will enable organizations to minimize the effects of the disaster and resume mission-critical functions quickly.

Business Continuity or DRP steps involve an extensive analysis of an organization’s business processes, IT infrastructure, data backup, resources, continuity requirements and disaster prevention methods. Secondly, it is the process of creating a comprehensive document encompassing details that will aid businesses in recovering from catastrophic events. Developing a disaster recovery plan differs between enterprises based on business type, processes, the security levels needed, and the organization size. There are various stages involved in developing an effective Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity planning. The key phases and the plan steps are outlined below:

Phase I – Data Collection

  1. Project should be organized with timeline, resources, and expected output
  2. Business impact analysis should be conducted at regular intervals
  3. Risk assessment should be conducted regularly
  4. Onsite and Offsite Backup and Recovery procedures should be reviewed
  5. Alternate site location must be selected and ready for use

Phase II – Plan Development and Testing

  1. Development of Disaster Recovery Plan
  2. Testing the plan

Phase III – Monitoring and Maintenance

  1. Maintenance of the Plan through updates and review
  2. Periodic inspection of DRP
  3. Documentation of changes

An Enterprise appoints a Disaster Recovery team within the organization, which can actively involve in creating the plan steps, implementing and maintaining the plan. As a priority, businesses organizations create DRP templates as a basis for developing Disaster Recovery plans for the organization. The following steps are taken in creating an efficient disaster recovery or business continuity planning:

Objective
The statement of the objective including project details, Onsite/Offsite data, resources, and business type

Disaster Recovery Plan Criteria
A documentation of the procedures as to declaring emergency, evacuation of site pertaining to nature of disaster, active backup, notification of the related officials/DR team/staff, notification of procedures to be followed when disaster breaks out, alternate location specifications, should all be maintained. It is beneficial to be prepared in advance with sample DRPs and disaster recovery examples so that every individual in an organization are better educated on the basics. A workable business continuity planning template or scenario plans are available with most IT-based organizations to train employees with the procedures to be carried out in the event of a catastrophe.

DR Team – Roles and Responsibilities
Documentation should include identification and contact details of key personnel in the disaster recovery team, their roles and responsibilities in the team.

Contingency Procedures
The routine to be established when operating in contingency mode should be determined and documented. It should include inventory of systems and equipment in the location; descriptions of process, equipment, software; minimum requirements of processing; location of vital records with categories; descriptions of data and communication networks, and customer/vendor details. A resource planning should be developed for operating in emergency mode. The essential procedures to restore normalcy and business continuity must be listed out, including the plan steps for recovering lost data and to restore normal operating mode.

Testing and Maintenance
The dates of testing, disaster recovery scenario, and plans for each scenario should be documented. Maintenance involves record of scheduled review on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly basis; reviews of plans, teams, activities, tasks accomplished and complete documentation review and update.

The disaster recovery plan developed thereby should be tested for efficiency. To aid in that function a test strategy and corresponding test plan should be developed and administered. The results obtained should be recorded, analyzed, and modified as required. Organizations realize the importance of business continuity plans that keep their business operations continuing without any hindrance. Disaster recovery planning is a crucial component of today’s network-based organizations that determine productivity, and business continuity.

If only I had known!

IT Network Disaster Recovery