Consultant's Notebook
Practical Business Recovery/Disaster Planning

Three Principles of Practical Business Recovery

  • Build it in – don’t add it on
  • Adopt business recovery – don’t implement it
  • Test, test, test – don’t just plan, plan, plan

Build It In – During Design Phase

  • Redundancy
    • Equipment (hardware and software)
    • Connectivity
    • Data
    • Facility
    • People
  • Capacity
    • Excess isn’t excessive
  • Utilization Solution
    • Dual uses for as much as possible
      • Development
      • Testing
      • Training

Adopt – Don’t Just Implement

  • Processes
    • Automatic synchronization
    • Server based software
  • People
    • Keep knowledge spread among many
  • Mindset
    • People hate change – but they will do it when it makes sense to them
    • Duplicate all critical material ( Yes, all  )
  • Small costs can have big impact
    • E.g. home connectivity for critical users

Testing is Better Than Planning

  • Usual Proposal from Recovery Consulting Vendors:
    • Massive, complex plan – many books (that sit on a shelf, unread and unused)
    • Test (when you can)
  • Better Method
    • Have many smaller distributed plans.
    • Test often – very often.
    • Test using the actual people who will (or may) recover.

Plans Are Necessary

  • Better to have a tested plan that has been used
       than to have a more robust plan that no one reads
  • Many small plans are better
    • Like the Internet
      • More resilient
      • More redundant
    • Coordination is an issue
      • Testing is the solution

Testing is Absolutely Necessary

  • Critical Success Factors
    • Realistic: actual people doing actual tasks
    • Repeated: at least annual; semi-annual is better
    • Partnerships: not adversarial
    • Non-judgmental: errors are good in tests
  • People gain confidence
    • Not a map – I’ve been there
    • I know the server works – I use it every week
    • I know how to use server based systems – I did it last month

Testing The Site

  • Test at least once annually
    • Twice when there are major changes
  • Real people do real tasks: e.g.
    • Payroll
    • Purchasing
    • Accounts Payable
    • Customer Service
    • Electronic Mail

Basic Concepts

  • Build it in
  • Adopt the mindset
  • Test, test, test

Moving Forward

  • Backup critical people
  • Better documentation of critical processes
  • More cross training to reduce “failure” points
  • Geographic dispersion of trained people
    • Temporal separation helps, but it’s not sufficient

Next Steps

This Consultant Note is a summary of the approach we use to help improve the implementation and effectiveness of business recovery / disaster planning initiatives. To help you achieve better payoff from your business recovery operation, contact us or email to

Some of the material in this Note was originally presented at the annual meeting of the Information Systems Management Forum in Tampa, Florida, December 2001.

© Copyright 2002-2003, Christopher Technology Consulting LLC


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