No disaster recovery plan is perfect. However, there is a big difference between knowing about and managing limitations; and being caught wrong-footed by a problem you never thought about. Some items seem to consistently make the ‘hit parade’ of omissions and absences in DR plans. Before spilling the beans, here’s a hint to help you guess what they might be. They each involve a lack of vision beyond the limited point of view of IT servers and applications in a data centre.
- Getting the workforce back to work. Disaster recovery applies to IT systems in particular. But people need to know they can get back to work again after an IT outage has been resolved. Workers don’t always automatically resume operations. So make sure your disaster recovery also triggers productivity recovery by telling people it’s time to start work again.
- Recovery for remote locations. The corporate IT centre may be vital to survival, but that’s no reason to forget about branch offices or distant sites. Your organisation may have a policy that separate business entities should look after their own resources. Make sure this does not lead to blinkered thinking or silo management. As a minimum, check that a workable solution has been defined and prepared for all parts of the business.
- Supply chain end-to-end operations. High performance supply chain operations are finely balanced with many moving parts. If one part such as a particular software application fails, it can throw other parts out of kilter too. Damage may extend beyond a local IT outage and need thorough checking and subsequent ‘knock-on’ problem resolution in other parts of the supply chain.
To guard against such shortcomings, remember to start your planning process by clearly understanding the business objectives for your organisation. Check that your disaster recovery plan covers all entities making critical contributions to reaching those objectives and all inter-dependencies between those entities. If you find gaps, revise your plan until you have filled them.