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Are business recovery plans useful beyond pure DR reasons?

Business disaster recovery plans can identify opportunities for process improvement, and can be employed as reference documents for use in other new activities.

Developing business recovery plans is a complex process involving research and analysis. The goal of these multifunction documents is to get the organization operational as quickly as possible after a technology disruption. But information gleaned from their development can occasionally be used in other areas.

Typical business recovery plans include information useful for any period of time, such as:

  • Employee and stakeholder contact lists;
  • Emergency contact lists;
  • Vendor lists;
  • Utility company contacts;
  • Instructions for performing recoveries;
  • Instructions for performing DR tests;
  • Roles and responsibilities of DR teams;
  • Equipment lists; and
  • Technical diagrams of systems, networks and other assets.

Two key components of business recovery plans are the business impact analysis and the risk analysis. The business impact analysis identifies the following:

  • Critical business processes that need to be maintained;
  • Technologies required to support those processes;
  • Resources to support those technologies;
  • Internal and external dependencies the technologies need to function;
  • Vital records and documentation necessary to manage the technology; and
  • Operational and financial impacts from a loss of the technology.

The risk analysis identifies internal and external risks and threats to the continued operation of the technology outlined in the business impact analysis. Data from the risk analysis helps to identify and prioritize situations that must be addressed to mitigate negative outcomes to the organization if a specific threat occurs.

Here are five suggestions for how to get even more mileage out of business recovery plans:

  1. Results of the business impact analysis could be used to identify opportunities for process improvement and ways technology can better support business processes.
  2. Results of the risk analysis could be used as part of a larger, company-wide risk analysis.
  3. Recovery instructions and other information contained in the plan could serve as an alternate source of documentation in case existing technical manuals are destroyed.
  4. The plan provides a single source of key contact information, reducing the need to search multiple sources for contact data.
  5. The plan could serve as a reference document for use in product planning, product design, service design and delivery, and other new business activities, ensuring that DR elements are factored into new business offerings.

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