This content is part of the Essential Guide: Essential guide to business continuity and disaster recovery plans

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What BC/DR plan alternatives can I use for disruptive events?

For those organizations that believe 'It will never happen to me,' options to a formal business continuity/disaster recovery plan do exist if the inevitable occurs.

Have you ever wondered how organizations survived before the advent of business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) plans? Historically, the first "official" disaster recovery plans appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They typically focused on recovering medium to large data centers with arrays of processors, disk storage systems, tape drives, card readers, printers, terminals and network communications. While vendors and IT department employees knew how to fix these devices, there was generally no specific step-by-step BC/DR plan of action to assess a situation, make decisions and launch coordinated responses.

Perhaps the most important aspect of early DR plans was that they documented the processes needed to recover and restore critical systems and networks. Documentation is perhaps the most important thing you can do to protect your organization.

Many organizations still do not have a BC/DR plan in place. How will they survive a disruptive event? Let's examine the available options:

  • An ad hoc response to an incident means response and recovery entails gathering your available "experts" and working together to find a solution, implement it and clean up afterward.
  • If you have an evacuation or emergency plan in place, that can be used as a starting point. It can be updated or expanded with action steps that address items like technology, manual workarounds and alternate work areas. Once you've completed the modifications, have a meeting with key employees and review the document to ensure it makes sense.
  • Most vendors include step-by-step procedures to restart, reconfigure and fix their systems and applications. These can usually be found in the technical manuals document you received when the product was purchased. Make copies of those specific pages, put the hardcopy versions in a binder, scan them into PDFs and store them on a common site, such as an intranet or shared drive. Make sure employees know how to find them.

Administrators need an effective disaster recovery planning process to best respond to these events, according to expert Jon Toigo.

  • Select from among the many free BC/DR plan templates available on SearchDisasterRecovery and fill them out. This won't take long and will provide you with documented, process-level BC/DR action steps. Organizations such as FEMA offer easy-to-use emergency plan templates online that can be filled out in approximately an hour or two.

Even if your BC/DR plan is actually no plan at all, you can still establish a level of readiness by documenting a few key emergency steps on a sheet of paper and posting it in company cafeterias, message boards, hallways and any other place where employees congregate.

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