A good disaster recovery plan is at the same time an asset and a liability. It’s an asset because you’ve thought about the risks and the requirements for recovery after any IT-related incident likely to affect your organisation. Yet it’s also a liability, because if it remains exactly as it is, sooner or later it will become out of date. A DR plan should always reflect the business needs of the organisation. As these needs change, the DR plan should be updated accordingly. On the other hand, advances in DR best practices and technology may also prompt changes, for example to improve RTO or RPO, lower ongoing costs, or even both. There is clearly a need to both drive and be driven.

With business moving ever faster and becoming increasingly dependent on IT to function correctly, the planning process for disaster recovery must stay close to the requirements of the different departments of the organisation. If the business is rolling out new software-based services for its customers, partners or employees, DR plans may need to be updated to handle new needs for speedy recovery. Similarly, changes in the IT architecture, such as using cloud services or moving to a converged or hyperconverged architecture, may mean an opportunity to lower DR costs without sacrificing effectiveness.

Processes to handle such changes vary. At the least, the process will include regular analyses of risks, business impact analysis updates and tests of the DR plan. Process checklists can also include regular reviews of industry standards for DR, benchmarking the DR performance of other organisations and working with auditors to use their input and recommendations for improvement. Larger scale disaster recovery plans may benefit from the use of additional change management techniques, especially if it is important to impress a “DR mindset” on colleagues and employees. The creation of new subsidiaries or the takeover of another company are examples where such management – preparing, managing and reinforcing DR change – are also likely to be important.