Using business continuity templates for disaster recovery

Formulating business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plans requires a significant amount of time and effort. This tip explores how document templates can guide you through the disaster recovery planning process by providing ready-made formats and layouts.

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When it comes to formulating and documenting business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plans, it's necessary to expend a significant amount of time and effort. One potential way to ease this burden is to acquire document templates to help guide you through this process, which provide ready-made formats, layouts and containers for the various types of information you'll need to assemble and record during that process.

Business continuity templates can help for everything from risk assessment -- where they'll help you catalog and evaluate assets, assign values, calculate exposure factors and single loss expectancies, determine annual rates of exposure and annualized loss expectancies -- to mapping out the details needed in disaster recovery plans -- such as key contacts information, step-by-step service resumption activities, delivery and recovery from off-site backups and more.

As you work through business continuity templates, however, don't forget to think outside the box. That is, you'll want to make sure you've covered everything that's relevant to your organization's disaster recovery or business continuity efforts, rather than just following somebody's blueprint unthinkingly. That's why a good shakedown from a recovery practice drill is so important to vetting all such plans, whether they derive from a template or not.

There are countless commercial sources for ready-to-use disaster recovery and business continuity templates, which will cost you anywhere from $100 to $400 and up. Here are some popular items in this category:

  • The Disaster Recovery Shop --  The Disaster Recovery Toolkit: Various questionnaires for contingency and disaster recovery plans, dependency analysis documents, frameworks and checklists for DRP, and a business impact analysis (BIA) questionnaire, along with RTF and PDF source documents (templates).
  • Disaster Recovery Guide -  BCP Generator tool: includes a how-to manual and a complete set of MS Word templates ($199)
  • Express BCP -  Business Continuity Plan package: includes a Microsoft Word template, a learning guide, and 12 months of post-purchase support from expert DR/BC planning consultants

Specialty training and consulting companies, such as  Supremus Group and others, also offer a broad range of templates for everything from BIA, to data backup and application recovery plans, to full-fledged disaster recovery and business continuity planning tools and templates, priced from under $100 to a complete kit for $1,200.

Another viable source for disaster recovery and business continuity templates and models comes from trade books devoted to that subject matter. A great many of these are available at prices that range from under $20 and seldom top $100. Some examples include:

Most of these books feature companion websites, or include CDs, where you can obtain ready-to-use DR and/or business continuity planning templates and other documents of various kinds. Dozens of other titles in this area are available, many likewise equipped, as a  quick search at Amazon.com Inc. will reveal.

There are large numbers of free disaster recovery and business continuity templates available, though these aren't generally as user-friendly or terribly supportive of import to word processing or spreadsheet programs. Here's a sampling:

  • IBM Corp. iSeries Information Center "Disaster Recovery Plan": a detailed and voluminous Web form that provides guidance, questionnaires and data-acquisition forms to help you acquire and organize business continuity/disaster recovery planning information.
  • Business continuity/disaster recovery consulting firm Mt Xia offers a surprisingly comprehensive and detailed  DR plan template in HTML form.

Though gathering data for and crafting a disaster recovery or business continuity plan may seem like a daunting task, this is well-trodden ground. In addition to the available information and guidance on such plans, you'll find ample sources for business continuity templates to gather your thoughts and data to aid in this task with minimal of frustration.

Ed Tittel is a long-time freelance writer and trainer who specializes in topics related to networking, information security, and markup languages. He writes for numerous TechTarget.com Web sites, and recently finished the 4th edition of The CISSP Study Guide for Sybex/Wiley (ISBN-13: 978-0470276886).

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This was first published in March 2009

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