Disaster recovery plans are like car insurance. It’s not because you’ve insured your car that you’re obliged to have an accident; similarly, it’s not because you have a great disaster recovery plan, that you’re obliged to have a disaster. Although reactive disaster recovery will always be a counterpart to proactive business continuity, better driving will also mean fewer accidents, so to speak. The more you can do in business continuity and the less you have to do in disaster recovery, the better.
The concept of shifting the balance from disaster recovery plans to business continuity plans has been developed in IT over recent years. There’s a continuing emphasis on moving from complex fault detection to proactive fault prevention. Detection of possible threats, failures or incidents that happen too frequently, like server reboots, helps to nip potential catastrophes in the bud. It’s happening in related areas as well, such as printing and photocopying solutions; an increase in paper jams for example triggers remote, proactive intervention from a vendor’s support centre.
The benefits to customers are in the reduction of downtime and/or worse. The only limit to proactive fault prevention that allows disaster recovery plans for IT to be pared down to really focus on the essentials is engineering imagination. Conversely, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that in return the advances in IT in proactive fault maintenance might also inspire parallels in activities and processes that rely on human beings, rather than technology. This would be a good thing, because disaster recovery has to cover both areas.
The challenge is then to find the best way to have employees signal possible threats, failures or overly frequent incidents, to be able to take similar preventative action. Although human beings aren’t meant to be programmable like computers, targeted training and education can help considerably.