Successful DR Plans and Planning
Alexis Scott Posted on April 30, 2015
Recently, a business contact (Frank) lamented that he diligently wrote a DR plan and no one in the organization seemed to care. This included senior management, middle management and rank and file employees. He shared the plan with me. From what I could see, the plan was well written and well thought out. There were sections on who has the authority to declare disasters, DR teams. procedures, critical business functions, evacuation procedures for different types of disasters (fire, flood, tornado), RTO, RPO and many others. By all standards, this should have been embraced by everyone – senior management to rank and file. It was easy to see why he was dejected. So what did he do wrong?
To find out the reason for the apathy, we dug deeper. I questioned him about why he wrote the plan in the first place. The answer – because his supervisor told him to. The supervisor told Frank that the HR manager asked him if the company had a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan. This was a requirement for a project they were bidding on. It sounded like the DR plan was a “check the box” type of request rather than a serious attempt at formulating a plan that would be taken seriously by everyone. This was the crux of the problem.
For DR planning and plans to be successfully implemented, it has to become company ethos. Management must either initiate the process or buy into a proposal that percolates from lower levels. Unless this happens, the appetite for DR planning that entails time, money and personnel will be relegated to a “nice to have” status rather than a “have to have” status. Even if upper management delegates the development of a plan to a lower level manager, those developing the plan have the responsibility of not only developing a sound plan but also getting the buy-in of rank and file employees and upper management. They should not assume that because upper management initiated the process, they will go to the next step and implement the plan.
“Buy In” is the operative phrase. Frank did not have buy in from rank and file employees, his supervisor and upper management. Successful plans have all stake holders agreeing to the contents of the plan and the actions codified therein (see www.disasterrecovery.org for further insight). If that point is reached, the plan can be successfully implemented and more importantly it will work in a disaster. The main steps to success are:
- Management initiates the DR planning process by selecting a team leader.
- The team leader chooses a team that will formulate the plan. Team members should be from as diverse a group as possible to ensure all viewpoints are taken into account. However, the team should not be too large because it will be unwieldy.
- The team meets at regular intervals and starts the process.
- They solicit inputs from various departments
- They poll rank and file employees
- The team draws up a preliminary plan and presents it to upper management. They solicit their ideas and fine tune the plan.
- Plan development may take several iterations of the above steps till it is in a final state.
- The final plan should be discussed with upper management and their blessings are paramount. The planning team should be prepared to be asked questions such a “how much will this cost, what resources are need etc. However, the planning team should also be prepared to show upper management what the impact a disaster will have on a business. This will get their attention and blessings very quickly
- Once upper management approves, the final plan should be presented to all employees. The best forum is weekly departmental meetings. If there is feedback, make sure if they are valid and incorporate them. If they do not cause a major increase in resources, there is no need to go back to upper management.
- Implement the plan. Test the plan and fine tune.
- The plan should be regularly updated.
These steps will assure you that the plan will be successful. All is not lost in the situation Frank finds himself in. He needs to persuade his supervisor of the benefits and the plan should be then presented to the senior manager who made the original request. Show him or her what a valuable exercise DR planning is and coopt him or her into bringing other upper management on board. The process stars per the above points, but since a plan has been written, it will become the starting point. Good luck. FEMA has some great tips on DR plans and planning (http://www.fema.gov/DR plans)
Categories: DR Plans