Top five disaster recovery and business continuity books

Are you new to business continuity or want to brush up on best practices? Learn about the top five business continuity books for veterans and those new to the profession.

When you're embarking on a new business continuity project, one of the best ways to get started is to read some...

books on the subject. Fortunately, there are numerous excellent resources available. In this article, we'll examine books in print that address disaster recovery (DR) planning and business continuity management (BCM). We'll also get comments on the leading books from Philip Rothstein, FBCI, president of Rothstein Associates Inc., a publisher and distributor of books and publications that address disaster recovery, business continuity, security, emergency management, and other related topics.

Business continuity management books

The business continuity management profession evolved from DR in the early 1990s, and focuses on a broader range of issues than DR. In the early days of DR, most activities focused on recovery of data centers and information, according to Rothstein. "Only a few books on disaster recovery existed at that time," he said, "and much of the knowledge was passed around by word of mouth." Much of the written word in BC/DR was found in magazines, such as the Disaster Recovery Journal and Survive! Additional knowledge came from conferences and seminars. Growth in books evolved more gradually.

Rothstein noted that today there are three types of disaster recovery/business continuity books. "We see practitioner-focused books that are designed for people whose career is in BC/DR," said Rothstein. "The academic community has developed into a major user of BC/DR books, given the growth of graduate-level courses in the subject," he added. "We also see a market for general business books for those whose career is not in BC/DR, but who wish to be aware of the subject."

Considering all three book types, Rothstein suggested the following business continuity books as top-selling titles from his catalog and other publishers over the past 20 years:

  • Definitive Handbook of Business Continuity Management, Third Edition, Andrew Hiles, FBCI, Editor (2011, John Wiley), ISBN 978-0-470-67014-9. Now more than 10 years old, The Definitive Handbook of Business Continuity Management is a classic book about business risk management and contingency planning. It includes case studies, examples and checklists, and helps simplify the business continuity processes for those new to the profession.
  • Risk Management Approach to Business Continuity, Julia Graham, FBCI, and David Kaye, FBCI, (2006, Rothstein Associates) ISBN 1-931332-36-3. This book was written by two BCM pioneers who served on the British Standards Institution (BSI) team that created British and international standards for risk management.
  • Principles and Practices of Business Continuity: Tools and Techniques, Jim Burtles, FBCI, (2007, Rothstein Associates) ISBN 1-931332-39-8. This comprehensive book was written by Jim Burtles, a founding fellow of the Business Continuity Institute. The book comes with a BCP tool kit on CD with 24 planning and analysis tools.
  • Disaster Recovery Testing: Exercising Your Contingency Plan, Philip Rothstein, FBCI, Editor (2007, Rothstein Associates), ISBN 0-9641648-0-9. This book was written jointly by 30 DR/BC professionals to help you develop and test your disaster recovery plan.
  • Business Continuity: Best Practices, Andrew Hiles, FBCI (2004, Rothstein Associates), ISBN 1-931332-22-3. This book is geared toward those new to the profession and veterans who want to brush up on business continuity best practices.

Rothstein hastened to add that there have been many other books, software tools and CDs that address BC/DR topics published over the past 20 years. "These titles are among the consistently best performers," he said.

What makes a good business continuity book?

There have been many business continuity books written over the years. Many have a how-to focus, such as how to write a BC/DR plan or how to conduct an exercise. Among the key drivers of books sales today, perhaps the most significant is the academic community, which has become a major consumer of BC/DR books. Growth of graduate-level programs such as the one at Norwich University has spurred interest in high-level academically focused titles. Among these, according to Rothstein, the most popular titles are Risk Management Approach to Business Continuity and Principles and Practices of Business Continuity: Tools and Techniques.

Key attributes of widely read BC/DR titles -- regardless of the format -- include a how-to approach, rather than simply a "what it is" format; a structured and logical arrangement of the information, and value-add items, such as a CD with ready-to-use tools and templates, and videos of disasters and how they were managed.

Rothstein added that there is interest in videos for creating BC/DR awareness as opposed to simply training. "A good video is something you can show to senior management to help them understand what you do and your value to the organization," he said.

Templates are also popular, because they help people get something done quickly and on a minimal budget, such as an assessment or a basic plan. CDs and online downloads are useful alternatives.

In addition to BC/DR-focused books, subjects peripheral to BC/DR, such as crisis communications, emergency management, community emergency preparedness, getting ready for the Department of Homeland Security's Private Sector Preparedness Program (PS-Prep), and standards and best practices, are increasingly in demand.

Additional BC/DR books to consider

  • Auditing Business Continuity: Global Best Practices, Rolf van Roessing, FBCI (2002, Rothstein), ISBN 1-931332-15-0. Many business continuity plans are never tested and a vast majority of those that are tested fail. This book was written to help you understand the flaws in your business continuity plan that can hinder a successful recovery.
  • IT Disaster Recovery Planning for Dummies, Peter Gregory, CISA, CISSP (2008, For Dummies), ISBN 978-0-470-03973-1. IT Disaster Recovery Planning For Dummies shows you how to create a plan quickly, assess your business risks, and keep your plan updated.

If you're involved in your company's business continuity management, you have available to you a diverse selection of books, videos, CDs and training programs. Despite the business continuity profession's relative youth, the choices are many and worth reading. If you are an established BC/DR professional, research the available titles to locate areas in which you can learn new skills that will boost your value to your organization.

About this author: Paul Kirvan, CISA, CSSP, FBCI, CBCP, has more than 20 years experience in business continuity management as a consultant, author and educator. He has been directly involved with dozens of IT/telecom consulting and audit engagements ranging from governance program development, program exercising, execution and maintenance, and RFP preparation and response. Kirvan currently works as an independent business continuity consultant/auditor and is the secretary of the Business Continuity Institute USA chapter and can be reached at [email protected].


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