A Startling Idea in Disaster Recovery (and Nothing to do with Technology)

Ask people where the next surprise will be in disaster recovery and they may well point to technology, the weather or legislation. While all of these areas should be taken into consideration, there’s another one that is vital to good DR management.  It’s people.  Perhaps because it’s so obvious, disaster recovery plans sometimes gloss over the human resources factor. ‘Get everybody back to work ‘ is frequently all that’s said, after a detailed discussion of phased computers and network recovery. However, it may take more than snapping your fingers to bring productivity back in a timely way.

People within a business are considered the center of Business Continuity Planning, where areas of concern and actions to be taken include:

  1. Look closely at your workforce to identify: those who deliver immediate disaster recovery value like IT staff fixing the problems (Tier 1), those who directly generate revenue such as sales people (Tier 2) and those with support roles, such as accounting and marketing teams (Tier 3).
  2. Organise your DR communications accordingly. Tier 1 gets the most information and detail, Tier 2 has priority for information to become immediately productive, and Tier 3 is kept appraised of when the situation is likely to become normal again.
  3. Make your people action plans accordingly. For example, Tier 1 personnel may need to be flown to a different site to get systems operational again, whereas Tier 3 personnel may be better instructed to stay at home and on call, out of harm’s way.
  4. Make alternative, safe locations for all employees and their families part of the disaster recovery plan. An IT server breakdown may not warrant this, but severe storms affecting a whole region are another matter.
  5. Perform realistic exercises that integrate the four points above, after making sure that employees and their families are aware of, an d understand the disaster recovery plan.

By comparing these people-oriented ideas with current disaster recovery planning, organisations can get a better idea about their true preparedness and capability to overcome catastrophes, wherever they come from.