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Implementing a Successful Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) – Strategy

Disaster Recovery PlanDRP

Automation is a buzzword in the current context. Technology and automation have become the backbone of every business and industry globally. The disruptions in automation can cost any business and industry dearly and so much so that in certain cases this can even threaten the survival. In such a situation, a disaster recovery plan could be a great option.  

An organization thrives on the awareness of its management about the possible disasters that might erupt, they plan to avoid the disruptions of the vital functions and also the capability of fast recovery appropriately and effectively.

A DRP is an all-inclusive account of the consistent arrangements to be made in advance, during, and after an avoidable instance of a disaster. The plan has to be inked and tested to ensure that the permanence of operations doesn’t halt and remain smooth. Disaster recovery services also become a priority for organizations in such cases

What is included in a disaster recovery plan:

Having a well-organized recovery plan ready can directly affect the capabilities of an organization with the best accuracy. For writing a DRP Plan, the contents of the plan should follow a logical sequence and also written in a standard and understandable format.

The purpose of disaster recovery plan:

The crucial purpose of Disaster Recovery Planning is to protect the organization in case of complete or partial operations and computer services are rendered unusable. Preparedness is vital for this. The DRP should curtail the chances of disruption and also ensure organizational stability and prompt recovery while a disaster hits the functionality.

The aims of the DRP planning can be as follows:

  • Ensuring the standby systems;
  • Testing of the disaster recovery plan; 
  • Providing SoP to handle a disaster. 

To prepare an effective DRP all the functions of the organization should be thoroughly investigated. All the potential consequences of the attack of a disaster on each component of the organization must also be determined. The DRP should address the “worst case” situation.

The proper way to assess the critical requirements of the organization is to document all the functions department-wise. An analysis of main functions performed over two to four weeks is enough to indicate the main functions. This can support identifying the requirement of data for the department for satisfactory operations on the day to day basis. 

The impacts and consequences:

Primary part is to evaluate the effects and cost of break in service or halt in functionality. The second most important fact is to establish the priorities for recovery in the DRP. Such factors must be taken into account with effective planning. 

Important requirements of every component/section of the organization should be minutely assessed and analyzed in the most important areas like Operations, Equipment, Raw Materials, Key Personnel, Information, Vital Records and Final Products among others. 

Another major angle of a disaster recovery plan is to have the pragmatic evaluation of the time period that the organization can function without that particular critical component/section. A disaster can manifest itself in multiple ways such as a department, automation system or pivotal section is destroyed, become inoperative, or inaccessible.

A justified way of assessing the important requirements of an organization is to record all the functions performed by every department or division of the organization. After documenting the main functions, the processes/operations should be rated in a sequence as per priorities for smooth functioning.

Processes & Priorities

The priorities can be defined inadequate degrees. They can be demarcated as follows: 

  • Essential/Crucial; 
  • Moderately Essential; 
  • Very Important; 
  • Important; 
  • Non-Essential 

The demarcations can also be on whichever way the industry or business might prefer doing in an individual autonomous capacity. It is time for ascertaining recovery approaches. A hands-on alternative for processing in case of a disaster must be evaluated by keeping the contextual elements in consideration. 

Preparing formats for evaluation before a disaster and implementation of DRP is a sure-shot way of infusing uniformity.

The backbone of a Disaster Recovery Plan is to organize and prepare a plan in black and white. The next step is having a concrete and effective preparation plan that works. A blueprint of the contents of the plan is to be prepared at the outset to lead the progress of the procedures. The person of competent jurisdiction should evaluate and accept the draft plan. 

This approach helps to shape the comprehensive procedures, ascertains the main steps before advent of the process of putting things in black and white, identifies the repetitive processes that are needed to be written only once and provides an exclusive roadmap for developing those procedures.

The plan should be carefully prepared; it should include all the processes to be used before the disaster to prevent it; during a disaster to minimize the threats and after a disaster to overcome the situation at the earliest. In certain cases it may be impractical to prepare elaborate plans without defining the alternatives to be used as backups.

Keeping the disaster recovery plan ready:

The DRP should be designed using a collective methodology that actually works for maximum output. An appropriate team needs to be assigned precise responsibilities for every functional unit of the organization.

The constitution of the contingency structure may not be the same as the existing organizational chart. The contingency structure is generally the team that remains responsible for the multiple vital functions required as per the priorities chalked out in the DRP. 

The management team is most important because it coordinates the implementation of the plan. The team should assess disaster keenly and evaluate all the concerned angles before activating the recovery plan. In the meantime, contacting the team managers equally remains a vital element. 

A custom plan for the procedures may be developed to facilitate the consistency and conformity throughout the plan of action. Standardization matters a lot when numerous people write the plan procedures. 

There are two basic formats to document the plan, first is Background Information and the other is Instructional Information.

What are the major elements of a typical disaster recovery plan:

The procedures are to be expressed clearly and must include the following mandatory factors:

  • Be specific and write the plan with a presumption that it will be followed by someone who is not familiar with the function and operation; 
  • Use sentences in direct tone and keep them short and simple. Long sentences can confuse and puzzle the reader; 
  • Start each paragraph with the topic sentences; 
  • Use the short paragraphs as long paragraphs can make the tone of the plan complicated for the reader; 
  • One idea at a time is the thumb rule. One thought per sentence is the ideal format.
  • Present tense with active voice verbs is best. Passive voice sentences can be lengthy and might as well be misinterpreted; 
  • Avoid all sorts of jargons; 
  • Use the designation titles (instead of names of designation holders) to reduce requirements of maintenance and revision; 
  • Its better to avoid gender nouns or pronouns, as they can cause avoidable requirements of revision;
  • Best way to minimize the exceptional incidents of deviation from actions and conditions is to develop uniformity of the procedures; 
  • Categorize the events that occur one after the other and the events that occur side by side.

How to test a disaster recovery plan:

The next important step is to test the disaster recovery plan with an effective strategy. The testing provides major information about any further steps that might be required for inclusion, the changes in the ineffective procedures, and many other required adjustments. The types of tests are as follows: 

  • Checklist Tests;
  • Simulation Tests;
  •  Parallel Tests;
  • Full Interruption Tests

Effective documentation and procedures are extremely important in a disaster recovery plan without which no action plan can give the expected results. Considerable effort and time are necessary to develop a plan. However, most plans are difficult to use and they quickly become outdated. 

Writing style is very important for documenting the plans. Procedures written in poor style can prove to be frustrating. On the other hand, a well-written plan reduces the time required to speed read for better comprehension of the procedures. 

Therefore, better writing results in a better chance of success when the plan has to be used. Well-written plans should be brief, workable and to the point. They end up being an assurance of effective results. 

After the DRP has been finalized, prepared, and tested, that plan is to be approved by the authority of competent jurisdiction. It is the responsibility of the top management that the organization has an elaborate, written and tested plan.

Backup processing for DRP

Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP) comprises backup processing off-site storage and much more. The organizations need to prepare a documented, all-inclusive DRP that addresses important functions and operations of the organization. The plan needs to contain the written and tested processes which will ensure the accessibility to the major resources and endurance of functions.

The possibility of a disaster happening in an organization is minuscule. But a (DRP) can be compared with insurance: and if a major operational disaster falls in the organization, it will not bring in a financial disaster. Insurance alone cannot be called sufficient because it may not provide any compensation for the immense loss caused by the disruption that will never return.

Why do you need to have a Disaster Recovery Plan:

  • Controlling possible financial loss;
  • Reducing potential exposures;
  • Decreasing the chances of occurrence;
  • Controlling disruptions to operations;
  • Ensuring organizational stability;
  • Providing an orderly recovery;
  • Curtailing insurance premiums;
  • Decreasing dependence on certain individuals;
  • Defending the resources of the organization;
  • Ensuring safety of employees and clients;
  • Providing template solutions during a disaster
  • Reducing legal obligation.

It is an ardent need to focus on the customized factors that should make the DRP implementation plan successful and worthwhile.

Microsoft Gold Partner USA
Errin OConnor

Errin OConnor

With over 25 years of experience in Information Technology and Management Consulting, Errin O’Connor has led hundreds of large-scale enterprise implementations from Business Intelligence, Power BI, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, IT Security, Azure and Hybrid Cloud efforts for over 165 Fortune 500 companies.

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