Learn how to develop disaster recovery strategies as well as how to write a disaster recovery plan with these step-by-step instructions. Once your disaster recovery strategies have been developed, you’re ready to translate them into disaster recovery plans.
Disaster recovery risk assessment and business impact analysis (BIA) are crucial steps in the development of a disaster recovery plan. In disaster recovery (DR) planning, once you've completed a business impact analysis (BIA), the next step is to perform a risk assessment. This chart identifies natural and man-made disasters that could adversely impact an organization. Then, you’ll need to establish recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs). The next section should define roles and responsibilities of DR recovery team members, their contact details, spending limits (for example, if equipment has to be purchased) and the limits of their authority in a disaster situation.
These are essential in that they ensure employees are fully aware of DR plans and their responsibilities in a disaster, and DR team members have been trained in their roles and responsibilities as defined in the plans. Such plans provide a step-by-step process for responding to a disruptive event with steps designed to provide an easy-to-use and repeatable process for recovering damaged IT assets to normal operation as quickly as possible.
Then define step-by-step procedures to, for example, initiate data backup to secure alternate locations, relocate operations to an alternate space, recover systems and data at the alternate sites, and resume operations at either the original site or at a new location. Here we can see the critical system and associated threat, the response strategy and (new) response action steps, as well as the recovery strategy and (new) recovery action steps. The more detailed the plan is, the more likely the affected IT asset will be recovered and returned to normal operation. Those events with the highest risk factor are the ones your disaster recovery plan should primarily aim to address.

Formulating a detailed recovery plan is the main aim of the entire IT disaster recovery planning project. Once this work is out of the way, you’re ready to move on to developing disaster recovery strategies, followed by the actual plans.
Once you have identified your critical systems, RTOs, RPOs, etc, create a table, as shown below, to help you formulate the disaster recovery strategies you will use to protect them.
In addition to using the strategies previously developed, IT disaster recovery plans should form part of an incident response process that addresses the initial stages of the incident and the steps to be taken. To do that, let us remind ourselves of the overall goals of disaster recovery planning, which are to provide strategies and procedures that can help return IT operations to an acceptable level of performance as quickly as possible following a disruptive event.
It is in these plans that you will set out the detailed steps needed to recover your IT systems to a state in which they can support the business after a disaster.
Here we’ll explain how to write a disaster recovery plan as well as how to develop disaster recovery strategies.
Based on the findings from incident response activities, the next step is to determine if disaster recovery plans should be launched, and which ones in particular should be invoked. But, before we look at them in detail, we need to locate disaster recovery risk assessment and business impact assessment in the overall planning process. By contrast, man-made events are those in which an individual or multiple persons may be held accountable for contributing to the event(s) that caused the disaster.
The strategies you define for risks can next be used to help design business continuity and disaster recovery strategies.
Technology DR plans can be enhanced with relevant recovery information and procedures obtained from system vendors. Procedures should ensure an easy-to-use and repeatable process for recovering damaged IT assets and returning them to normal operation as quickly as possible.

This process can be seen as a timeline, such as in Figure 2, in which incident response actions precede disaster recovery actions.
Once the plan has been launched, DR teams take the materials assigned to them and proceed with response and recovery activities as specified in the plans. Located at the end of the plan, these can include systems inventories, application inventories, network asset inventories, contracts and service-level agreements, supplier contact data, and any additional documentation that will facilitate recovery. Having established our mission, and assuming we have management approval and funding for a disaster recovery initiative, we can establish a project plan. A disaster recovery project has a fairly consistent structure, which makes it easy to organise and conduct plan development activity. This includes potential damage the events could cause, the amount of time needed to recover or restore operations, and preventive measures or controls that can mitigate the likelihood of the event occurring.
As you can see from The IT Disaster Recovery Lifecycle illustration, the IT disaster recovery process has a standard process flow. Check with your vendors while developing your DR plans to see what they have in terms of emergency recovery documentation. Following the BIA and risk assessment, the next steps are to define, build and test detailed disaster recovery plans that can be invoked in case disaster actually strikes the organisation’s critical IT assets.
Detailed response planning and the other key parts of disaster recovery planning, such as plan maintenance, are, however, outside the scope of this article so let us get back to looking at disaster recovery risk assessment and business impact assessment in detail.

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