It’s all very well creating your disaster recovery or business continuity plan. Too often though, complacency sets in once the plan has been finalised and the implementation is neglected. Here are some tips on how to ensure the successful implementation for your D/R plan.

  1. Ensure key people understand it. Arrange a meeting with your team to go through your D/R plan. Set key roles and responsibilities and make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities. This should include key IT people, business continuity managers and senior staff who will all need to manage their functions in the event of an IT disaster, fire, or business interrupting event.
  2. Assign an implementation manager. One person should be responsible for making sure that each element of the D/R plan is implemented. This may then be delegated out to various members of the IT department. Who’s responsible for sourcing suppliers, hardware, software, backing up data, ensuring tests are carried out, running recovery exercises, noting and maintaining key telephone numbers, passwords etc? This person should then ensure that each element has been completed.
  3. Monitor the implementation. Set dates for completion of delegated tasks and monitor progress against them. When should suppliers be agreed? When should documentation be finished? D/R plan implementations can last a long time if their progress isn’t being driven, which increases risk to businesses of not being prepared for IT downtime.
  4. Test.  Once implementation has been completed, a full exercise should be scheduled. This involves running through the whole D/R plan, as if in an emergency situation, not just checking that your backup disk contains data.  It’s only when you practice that you start to identify the elements of your D/R plan that need more attention. Practice also gives you confidence so that in a real disaster your team can respond more effectively.
  5. Get board level interest. D/R should be of board level interest as it can save a business (or ruin it if not implemented properly). Make time at a board meeting to review the D/R plan implementation. Show an interest in the strategy, what solutions are in place and how effective they have been during exercises. Key questions to ask are “how quickly were the systems recovered, what could be improved, would the business survive an IT disaster with this D/R plan?” With the board showing an interest, you’re much more likely for your D/R plan implementation to succeed.