Three cheers for disaster recovery plan templates! Or should that be just two cheers? It’s a fact that good templates offer several advantages. Reduced time and effort are perhaps the most obvious. When somebody has already done the work for you, there is no sense in reinventing the wheel, plus the resources you save in this area can be applied elsewhere for further added value to your business. Leveraging professional skills and experience is another advantage, on the condition that you are using good quality templates. But there is also one drawback you must consider.

The trouble with templates is that they discourage thinking, like prepared meals discourage cooking and the internal combustion engine discourages physical exercise.

No two disaster recovery plans will look the same, because no two organisations will have the same DR needs or objectives. There are of course many common elements and concepts, like DR metrics, top-level backup architectures, and so on – without which a template could not exist, of course. However, the good, old “80:20” rule applies here, as much as anywhere. You may get 80% of the manual work done rapidly thanks to a template, but the 20% remaining may take considerable time and effort to accomplish if a quality result is to be achieved.

Does this mean that templates are bad? No at all. Not only can a good template save on “grunt work”, but it can also provide useful reminders of items that might be overlooked or forgotten if you tried to do your disaster recovery all by yourself. Your job is more to link the template content to your organisation’s requirements, to adapt it appropriately, and to produce a DR plan that covers all your needs, possibly including some that were not mentioned in the template. If you are prepared to think things through, the con of DR templates disappears, and you can reap the full benefits of the pro’s.