Business Continuity Plans and Lessons Learned

“Learn from your mistakes” is a good motto and business continuity plans are no exception. In the previous post, “Disaster Recovery Plan – the Map is Not the Territory”, we described how ASCDI (Association of Service and Computer Dealers International) found out that in a hurricane its disaster recovery plan was less than perfect. The experience is described by Joseph Marion on the ASCDI website as “humbling”. However, it’s also thanks to honest accounts like this that BC planning continues to develop and that other organisations get the chance to avoid similar pitfalls. Some of the practical lessons learned by ASCDI are below.

 The first lesson for ASCDI was to change any business continuity plan assumptions about power and fuel. Although the association was based close to the large fuel depot of the Port of Miami, the hurricane disrupted all fuel supplies and in a “domino effect” also put phone lines out of action because the local phone company’s generator also stopped and it was impossible for the phone company’s staff to travel in to refuel it.

The second lesson was in the configuration and dimensioning of the alternate site. Although ASCDI had given the alternate site a different web address, it turned out that it was better simply to still use the original URL, but to redirect all traffic from that URL to the alternate site. The alternate network connections, available but too slow during the disaster recovery period, were also changed to match the real requirements determined by measuring the main site under normal operating conditions.

The third one was to stop obstinately pursuing a business continuity plan that wasn’t adapted for the crisis at hand. The posts on the ASCDI site ( also make other practical observations, including the need for employees to sort out any impact at home before being able to deal with the disaster at work. As the posts state, “the… nature of a disaster is its unpredictability… so you need to be ready to modify your plan during a disaster”.