Disaster recovery risk assessment and business impact analysis (BIA) are crucial steps in the development of a disaster recovery plan. Once your disaster recovery strategies have been developed, you’re ready to translate them into disaster recovery plans. 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.
Here we’ll explain how to write a disaster recovery plan as well as how to develop disaster recovery strategies.
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. This section defines the criteria for launching the plan, what data is needed and who makes the determination. Technology DR plans can be enhanced with relevant recovery information and procedures obtained from system vendors.
All the preparation in the world will not matter if you do not also plan out the specific course of action you will take when a disaster strikes. The purpose of emergency planning is to provide the basis for systematic responses to emergencies that threaten an organization and the records and information necessary for continuing operations. 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. 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. 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.
This process can be seen as a timeline, such as in Figure 2, in which incident response actions precede disaster recovery actions. During the incident response process, we typically become aware of an out-of-normal situation (such as being alerted by various system-level alarms), quickly assess the situation (and any damage) to make an early determination of its severity, attempt to contain the incident and bring it under control, and notify management and other key stakeholders. 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. If your organisation already has records management and change management programmes, use them in your DR planning. Having established our mission, and assuming we have management approval and funding for a disaster recovery initiative, we can establish a project plan.
Note: We have included emergency management in Figure 2, as it represents activities that may be needed to address situations where humans are injured or situations such as fires that must be addressed by local fire brigades and other first responders. 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. 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.
This section should specify who has approved the plan, who is authorised to activate it and a list of linkages to other relevant plans and documents.
Included within this part of the plan should be assembly areas for staff (primary and alternates), procedures for notifying and activating DR team members, and procedures for standing down the plan if management determines the DR plan response is not needed. The most effective way to combat these destructive elements is to have a clear, comprehensive, well-practiced response plan in place. Survival also means maintaining the competitive position and financial stability of an organization immediately following and continuing long after an emergency. A disaster recovery project has a fairly consistent structure, which makes it easy to organise and conduct plan development activity.
The following section details the elements in a DR plan in the sequence defined by ISO 27031 and ISO 24762.


A section on plan document dates and revisions is essential, and should include dates of revisions, what was revised and who approved the revisions. If DR plans are to be invoked, incident response activities can be scaled back or terminated, depending on the incident, allowing for launch of the DR plans.
Check with your vendors while developing your DR plans to see what they have in terms of emergency recovery documentation.
An emergency management plan is a unique, detailed guide for times of great stress and crisis. 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. Important: Best-in-class DR plans should begin with a few pages that summarise key action steps (such as where to assemble employees if forced to evacuate the building) and lists of key contacts and their contact information for ease of authorising and launching the plan. 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.
The more detailed the plan is, the more likely the affected IT asset will be recovered and returned to normal operation.
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. 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. And since DR planning generates a significant amount of documentation, records management (and change management) activities should also be initiated. Learn how to develop disaster recovery strategies as well as how to write a disaster recovery plan with these step-by-step instructions. 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. The result of the planning process is a written records and information emergency management plan. Once this work is out of the way, you’re ready to move on to developing disaster recovery strategies, followed by the actual plans. Management approves this plan and provides the necessary authority, structure, policies, procedures, and resources to guide the organization through an emergency.
Refer to the sample emergency management plan in the sidebar as you read the following sections. The Components of an Emergency Management Plan Policy Statement Emergency plans should include the policy established in the development process. It may also require aggressive action on the part of facility staff (for example, to put out a fire or resolve a medical emergency). Responsibilities and Authority The policy statement will describe broad responsibilities of the key personnel.
Task Organization Organizational size may dictate that several teams be involved in plan activities.
If several teams will be involved, each team and respective member responsibilities should be included in the plan. This space is for breaking down, in as much detail as possible, the steps that you, your staff, and youth will take in response to the disaster at hand.
If citizen or corporate partners are included in the emergency process, list them in the plan. Information Distribution Procedures The emergency plan should explain the methods [by which] employees would communicate if an emergency event occurs. While the on-duty support staff take responsibility for moving youth there and handing out critical supplies, the director (or lead staff person) takes responsibility for turning off the gas, closing exterior doors and windows, and shutting off lights.


If the facility is no longer habitable, the local or regional evacuation plan comes into play.Below the procedures area is a space to list the critical supplies and resources that the specific disaster scenario demands. For example, emergency or vital records and information may be transferred to the requestor via a special color-coded mail pouch. Since there is a possibility that an evacuation will be necessary in the wake of a tornado, this plan calls for distribution of all the facility’s Go-Bags. Preparedness Checklist The emergency plan must address specific emergencies and how to handle them. The first aid kit, if not already in the safe room, would be brought there as well, in addition to extra flashlights and a battery-powered radio for listening to weather updates as they are broadcast.The area below the supplies and resources section is for listing emergency contact information that applies to the specific disaster scenario. It must provide for both major and minor emergencies and should include both site-specific and community-wide events.
For example, a response plan for a medical emergency might list the local fire, rescue squad, and police emergency numbers. Organizations should have a checklist covering each emergency and the steps necessary to prepare for and control the emergency. Since the only real response to a tornado involves sheltering and riding it out, there is no number listed here.The final area on the form is for detailing the recovery processes that will help return life to normal when the disaster is over. These steps should be continuous or sequential from the preparedness phase to the response phase for each emergency addressed. Examples of checklists to include are the vital records schedule and records recovery priority lists. The plan should show when an emergency status is upgraded from one phase to the next phase.
Recovery Checklist A recovery checklist should also show the continuing steps from the response phase to the recovery phase.
The response checklist should indicate brief statements regarding particular activities that should be performed in the recovery phase. Training Programs Employees will not follow the plan properly if they have not been trained how to use it.
No one plan can account for every possible nuance of every disaster—the best you can hope for is that, by taking the time to anticipate your response, you will be prepared to handle any situation when it arises. A training program outline should be included in the plan to document subjects in which employees have been trained and the frequency the training was administered. But take a few moments now to walk through the fire response plan above.Obviously, the answer to the big question here is evacuation.
The first step requires the person responding to the fire to pull the fire alarm, which is the facility’s signal for an immediate building evacuation, the plan for which is referenced in the procedures.
Testing Procedures The plan must include goals, objectives, and schedules for conducting exercises or simulations.
This plan, already designed, specifies who is responsible for gathering needed supplies, what the procedures are for getting to the rally point, and so on.Next, the responder must evaluate the situation. Specific types of exercises to be used for the most likely emergencies should also be in the plan. Make additional copies of the disaster response plan template (Appendix H) and begin drafting response plans for each one.



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