A Supply Chain Lesson for IT Disaster Recovery

Have you met the concept of the perfect order in supply chain management? It is a notion that applies well to disaster recovery, and an example of how cross pollination can work between different areas of an enterprise.

The idea is that your DR process is in fact a “delivery” of a properly working system, network or other IT entity to your customers, who are the end-users relying on those systems, etc. to do their jobs.

While you won’t (hopefully) have the same requirements for regularity or frequency, you will need to aim for a “perfect order” whenever DR is needed.

So, what goes into a “perfect order”? Before discussing from the disaster recovery point of view, let’s see what it is from the supply chain standpoint.

The perfect order (shipment, delivery) is the one in which the right product (or service) is delivered to the right place, at the right time, in the right condition, in the right package, in the right quantity, with the right documentation, to the right customer, with the correct invoice.

That makes nine “rights” to get right. Less than right in any one of these dimensions means a less than perfect order.

Also, performance even on a percentage basis of the number of perfect orders drops off faster and faster, as errors creep into more and more dimensions.

Comparing with disaster recovery, we can see that a perfect disaster recovery is one in which the right system in the right working condition with the right connections (network, other systems) is delivered (made available) to the right end-users, in the right quantity (number of servers or virtual machines to ensure correct performance), with the right documentation (instructions or explanations for any additional requirements or actions for users to get back to work), and possibly with the correct invoice (even if it is only “Now, you owe me a beer”).

As in the supply chain, that’s a lot for a DR team to get right, but it’s also critically important to get it all right.

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