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Document and Maintain the Disaster Recovery Plan

Organizations continue to struggle with creating DRPs and making them actionable. It's time for a new approach.


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  • ActiveHealth Management
  • Sierra Management Consulting
  • Pite Duncan, LLP
  • Cable and Wireless Communications
  • Additional anonymous contributors

Your Challenge

  • All enterprises understand the importance of a DRP, but many don’t know where to begin. Or worse, they’ve invested months into creating a plan that may capture the recovery process, but is difficult to maintain and too cumbersome to be effective in a crisis.
  • Planning tools can kickstart the documentation by providing templates and a centralized repository. However, they are costly and add the overhead of training, maintenance, and administration of another application.
  • Creating a DRP can take months. After all that effort, too many plans become stale due to the lack of an effective process for reviewing and updating the DRP.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Visual-based documents – flowcharts, checklists, and diagrams – are far more effective in a crisis than the traditional DRP manual. The usual 300-page manual might satisfy the auditors, but it’s not very effective in a crisis.
  • A streamlined DRP also depends on effective Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for application recovery, configuration settings, and so on. The DRP needs to stay focused on decision making, the high-level response plan, and coordinating activities.
  • Planning tools are not a silver bullet. You still need to define the processes and capture the recovery steps that need to go into those tools. If the tool is too complex or cumbersome, they can actually be a hindrance to plan development and maintenance.

Impact and Result

  • Understand best practices for DR documentation that is easy to develop and easy to maintain. The traditional DRP manual is not the best approach.
  • Implement strategies for ensuring DR documentation stays up to date. You can’t schedule when disasters occur, so your documentation has to stay current.
  • Create a DRP that would be effective and usable in a crisis. That includes being able to access it when your primary site is down.

Research & Tools

1. Use best practices for creating effective DR documentation

Understand that a DRP is only as strong as the supporting documentation.

2. Develop strategies for maintaining DR documentation

Identify documentation requirements through DR testing.

3. Publish and manage DR documentation

Decide on an appropriate publishing and document management strategy for your organization.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a three call advisory process.

Call #1 - Review best practices for creating effective DR documentation

DRP success relies on documentation that is concise, scanable, and quickly understood. Visual-based documentation meets these requirements. Info-Tech will go onsite to coach your team on documentation best practices and to facilitate SOP development.

Call #2 - Establish a process for maintaining DR documentation

Understand what leads to documentation that is easy to maintain, evaluate the effectiveness of your current strategies, and create an action plan to ensure documentation stays up-to-date.

Call #3 - Decide on a strategy for publishing and managing DR documentation

Review the pros and cons of potential strategies: Determine if the existing methodology works or whether a different option needs to be explored. Then decide on an appropriate publishing and document management strategy for the enterprise.