Assessing your disaster recovery preparedness

Assessing your disaster recovery preparedness

Many business contingency plans are untested. In the event of a disaster, would your plan meet the challenge?

Susan Hurley

Anyone responsible for network reliability knows that some type of system failure is inevitable. There are too many unpredictable and uncontrollable factors; and no matter how diligent you are, there is no way to prevent them all. The trick is to prevent those that you can and prepare for those that you can`t. This is known as business contingency planning, also referred to as a disaster recovery planning.

Not all IT managers have taken the steps to protect their businesses against potential disasters, which can take the form of disk crashes to power failures, hurricanes, or floods. In fact, according to a recent IBM study of 226 corporate business managers, only 8% of firms doing business on the Internet have a recovery plan in place. And of those that have a plan, many are not adequately covered. In its Business Recovery Study, Hewlett-Packard found that 60% of companies with plans have never tested them and aren`t sure they would work.

It isn`t easy to prepare a business contingency plan. Sometimes senior management needs a nudge to understand the consequences of a wide-scale network outage and the need for protection against it. Sometimes the budget is too constrained to finance a program for something that may not occur right away. Other times informed help to set up preparations based on a company`s particular requirements is hard to find.

But help is available. How do you develop your own custom business contingency plan? What should it contain? How do you write it? How do you decide whether to go to a disaster recovery vendor or keep the project in-house? What works best with your customers, equipment, business, and obligations?

Before you begin, you need to know how your current preparations rate. Start by jotting down answers to the questions in the disaster readiness scorecard and noting the pattern that shows up.

Did you have trouble answering some of the questions accurately? Would clarification be helpful on a few of the questions? Do you know how and where to find the answers to every question? If not, are you sure your current plan covers each of these?

The questions were taken from a website (www.DLTtape.com/ProveIt) set up by a group of more than 30 computer-related firms. The site is dedicated to helping businesses understand, write, test, and update disaster recovery plans.

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Susan Hurley is a technology writer with Coast Writing, an independent firm specializing in computer application articles. She can be reached at susan@coastwriting.com.

This article was originally published on October 01, 1999