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Minimizing decision-making during a disaster

According to Geoffrey H. Wold of the Disaster Recovery Journal, the entire process involved in developing a Disaster Recovery Plan consists of 10 steps:[4]

  • Performing a risk assessment: The planning committee prepares a risk analysis and a business impact analysis (BIA) that includes a range of possible disasters. Each functional area of the organization is analyzed to determine potential consequences. Traditionally, fire has posed the greatest threat. A thorough plan provides for “worst case” situations, such as destruction of the main building.
  • Establishing priorities for processing and operations: Critical needs of each department are evaluated and prioritized. Written agreements for alternatives selected are prepared, with details specifying duration, termination conditions, system testingcost, any special security procedures, procedure for the notification of system changes, hours of operation, the specific hardware and other equipment required for processing, personnel requirements, definition of the circumstances constituting an emergency, process to negotiate service extensions, guarantee of compatibilityavailability, non-mainframe resource requirements, priorities, and other contractual issues.
  • Collecting data: This includes various lists (employee backup position listing, critical telephone numbers list, master call list, master vendor list, notification checklist), inventories (communications equipment, documentation, office equipment, forms, insurance policies, workgroup and data center computer hardware, microcomputer hardware and software, office supply, off-site storage location equipment, telephones, etc.), distribution register, software and data files backup/retention schedules, temporary location specifications, any other such lists, materials, inventories, and documentation. Pre-formatted forms are often used to facilitate the data gathering process.
  • Organizing and documenting a written plan
  • Developing testing criteria and procedures: reasons for testing include
    • Determining the feasibility and compatibility of backup facilities and procedures.
    • Identifying areas in the plan that need modification.
    • Providing training to the team managers and team members.
    • Demonstrating the ability of the organization to recover.
    • Providing motivation for maintaining and updating the disaster recovery plan.
  • Testing the plan: An initial “dry run” of the plan is performed by conducting a structured walk-through test. An actual test-run must be performed. Problems are corrected.

Initial testing can be plan is done in sections and after normal business hours to minimize disruptions. Subsequent tests occur during normal business hours.

Types of tests include: checklist tests, simulation tests, parallel tests, and full interruption tests.