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How can I keep my business disaster recovery plans relevant?

Has your organization created a disaster recovery plan and left it on the shelf? You're not alone. Explore what you can do to improve your plan's effectiveness.

Assuming business disaster recovery plans are created to protect information technology and communications resources, perhaps the biggest misunderstanding in DR planning is that simply having a plan is enough to protect technology. Without periodic testing and updating of the plan, there is no guarantee that the plan and its procedures will achieve the desired recovery results, such as satisfying the recovery time objective.

Testing increases the chances that business disaster recovery plans will perform as designed and when needed. As changes in technology occur, plans should be updated and, if possible, retested to ensure that the technology changes are protected.

Frequency of DR plan testing is another issue to consider. The traditional thinking is for business disaster recovery plans -- or parts of them -- to be tested annually. If the organization's IT infrastructure changes minimally during a 12-month period, that metric is acceptable.

However, for dynamic organizations that use technology extensively and are regularly reviewing ways to increase productivity and improve customer service, technology needs may change more frequently. As such, DR plan testing should also occur more frequently to ensure plans accurately reflect and protect the changed environment.

An interesting trend of note is the increasing frequency of DR testing offered by disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) firms. Traditional brick-and-mortar DR service firms typically include one to two tests per year as part of the contract. Additional tests can be scheduled, but a fee is required. Some of the newer DRaaS firms, which are cloud-based, now offer unlimited DR testing as part of their service package. So there's no longer an excuse to overlook DR plan testing.

It's not uncommon for business disaster recovery plans to be produced and then relegated to gathering dust in a bookcase or shelf. Many plans are out of date and do not accurately reflect the current state of the technology being used, as well as ever-changing business requirements.

DRaaS firms can assist in producing DR plans, store them where they can be easily accessed -- such as on a smartphone -- and ensure they are regularly tested. As such, their value to an organization also increases.

Next Steps

Free templates for BC/DR testing

DR as a service takes the spotlight

Resources to help your DR planning

Dig Deeper on Disaster recovery planning - management