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Six BC/DR plan questions you might be afraid to ask

When crafting a business continuity and disaster recovery plan, there are a lot of steps and factors to consider. We've compiled the top questions you might be afraid to ask.

A thorough, structured plan for business continuity and disaster recovery can help organizations prepare for and...

regroup after disruptions caused by a myriad of disasters. Whether it's an issue of weather or the ever-growing threat of ransomware, a solid BC/DR plan is integral to getting a business up and running again and minimizing data loss.

There are a lot of questions surrounding BC/DR planning, and not all of them are what you would expect. While some are curious about nitty-gritty details, like planning, testing and staffing, others may find themselves wondering if a BC/DR plan is even necessary. After all, a step-by-step plan for disaster recovery hasn't always been an IT staple.

The answers to the following common BC/DR planning questions will help you understand what qualities a plan should have, the updates and analysis required, and may even help you decide that other options may be a better fit for your budget.

What makes a good disaster recovery plan?

A cautious approach, testing and learning from the mistakes of others are good BC/DR plan starting points, but the factors associated with disaster recovery seem to grow every day. Recent additions to consider when crafting a DR plan are container storage and the increased threat of ransomware.

Who should be involved?

Employees typically get involved when a business impact analysis (BIA) is conducted, but participation may taper off. When it comes to BC/DR planning, the bulk of the work is often done by a small group of people or one person, sometimes an external consultant. But keeping staff engaged in the BC/DR process has a number of benefits.

Employee input can identify security and capacity planning needs, while BC/DR training exercises can help employees keep emergency processes top of mind. With a deeper knowledge of the BC/DR plan, employees might be inspired to incorporate some practices into their day-to-day work.

Is a risk assessment important?

BC/DR consultants recommend conducting a risk assessment prior to creating a plan. But these activities may not be for everyone. Time and budget constraints could be a deterrent, as well as employee work hours.

These preliminary discovery processes are considered best practices for a BC/DR plan, but a plan can be created without them. Crafting a list of questions for employees can serve as a compressed BIA or risk assessment, but it won't be as in-depth as a full assessment.

What if I'm on a budget?

Proper DR plan testing is vital to keeping an organization on its toes during an actual emergency, but what if the funding isn't there? A major cost factor is the time involved with plan testing; reducing that time could help you stay within budget. Reducing the number of participants and modifying your success criteria can also help, but test results will most likely be affected.

How can I keep my plan up to date?

As with any technology, frequent updates are vital to keeping a plan effective over time. BC/DR plans can include a lengthy list -- from 50 to 100 pages -- of steps and responsibilities. When updating a plan, breaking it into different sections, like vendors or manufacturing components needed, can keep things organized and manageable. Delegating tasks and compiling a schedule can also ease the process.

Do I truly need a BC/DR plan?

Technically, the answer is no. Options such as ad hoc responses or emergency management can help resolve incidents. Simply compiling a list of emergency steps can be an advantage in a disaster.

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