Whether or not disaster recovery improves things for your organization depends, naturally enough, on your reference point. When systems have stopped and productivity is at zero, perhaps any change brought about by enacting a DR procedure would be a good one.

Compared with the situation before disaster struck, however, your post-recovery situation might not be so appetising. Business interruption and inability to produce, ship, or invoice can all lead to losses. So are there cases in which disaster recovery might really leave you better off than before?

A thorough answer to this question could be a book all by itself. Any measurable comparisons between before and after situations would have to take into account impacts on productivity, revenue, profitability, reputation, customer confidence and satisfaction, employee morale, and more.

Even with well-designed surveys for aspects like customer sentiment, some items remain difficult to measure and perhaps impossible to compare one to another. For example, if a customer survey shows your patrons think better of you for having successfully implemented a disaster recovery, but during that period your enterprise missed out on profit and revenue, is that a net gain or a net loss?

Calculators, estimates and judgment will all need to be exercised to get to any meaningful answer, which will vary according to each organisation. Yet there is also another factor that should not be ignored.

A disaster recovery now may leave you better prepared to deal with disasters in the future. A disaster of smaller proportions today may draw your attention to weaknesses in your DR planning that you can put right, allowing you to deal with a bigger disaster tomorrow.

Of course, you shouldn’t wait for a disaster to put your DR plan to the test. It should be tested beforehand and should already leave you better off for having tested – and ideally let you design in net improvement or minimize net prejudice for when real disaster strikes.