Your disaster recovery wake-up call

By Alberto Jimenez, CBCP, PMP

Hurricane Sandy is the latest reminder of the power of nature and the fragility of our infrastructure. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a natural disaster like a hurricane, earthquake, or tornado to remind us about organizational business continuity management (BCM) capabilities and the importance of a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy.

For businesses everywhere, now is the time to ask the following:

  • Do you have an IT recovery plan? Can you get to it when disaster strikes?
  • Do you have plans to address temporary loss of personnel who are addressing their personal situations first?
  • Is the sequence of recovery accurately documented in the plan?
  • Is the supporting IT infrastructure (networks, storage, servers) sufficient to support the recovery?
  • Is IT able to restore business-critical systems and data in a timely manner?

Don't wait until a natural disaster to test your BC/DR plans. Sandy is a wake-up call to take a look at your current BCM strategy and make any necessary improvements. Determine now if your BCM response is comprehensive and viable enough to get your business through a natural disaster.

Start by addressing the following:

  • Identify risks – Pinpoint what should be protected and be specific. There are many ways to accomplish this, but a business impact analysis (BIA) and/or risk assessment are comprehensive processes that can help you evaluate existing resources and establish a foundation for your plan.
  • Define business priorities – You don't have to devise a BCM plan all at once. Apply a phased approach that models your immediate needs. However, be sure to address recovery time objectives (RTOs), recovery point objectives (RPOs), critical applications, and associated dependencies.
  • Develop practical plans – Make sure you have a viable, comprehensive disaster recovery plan that aligns IT infrastructure with critical business processes. And most importantly, test the plan to ensure it's viable.
Effective BCM provides a holistic process – a framework – for building the capability to successfully respond in the event of a business disruption including the recovery of IT services and continuity or quick restoration of value-creating, time-sensitive activities. With this, your business will be able to weather any storm.