ITtoolkit Article Collection

How to Take a Team Approach to Disaster Recovery Planning

Read more in the full article below.

Effective disaster recovery programs depend on the people involved.  The resulting plans and procedures are born out of cooperation and collaboration, combining requirements, strategies and steps to form a cohesive program for employee safety and business continuity.

To create a full-fledged program for disaster recovery, the right resources must be pulled together, at the right time, and for the right purpose.

As a process, structured disaster recovery planning flows through a series of phases designed to facilitate requirements definition, response planning, and when necessary, related action. DRP team structure should be designed to mirror phase structure and workflow, ensuring that all essential planning bases are covered.  (Get Our Whitepaper:  Quick Start Guide to Disaster Recovery Planning).

Why do you need a team?

Taking a "team approach" to disaster recovery planning offers three (3) primary advantages:

#1. It takes a team to identify comprehensive disaster recovery requirements, sufficiently diverse and relevant to all key needs and operational perspectives.

#2. It takes a team to create an actionable disaster recovery program, considering all operational capabilities and constraints.

#3. It takes a team to put all the plans and programs into action and keep current with changing needs.

As can be expected, team staffing and knowledge requirements may vary according to the scope and purpose of the disaster recovery planning process (considering requirements, planning and implementation). In order to maintain a continual process flow, appropriate resources must be identified, allocated and assigned accordingly.  Considering this results driven organizational approach, each team "unit" must be structured to suit phase goals, skills, roles and responsibilities.

Team Planning Questions and Variables

The exact composition of any given DRP team will vary according to organizational characteristics, operational requirements and disaster plan complexity. As such, the following key issues must be considered as team organization is underway:

1. Who will lead the DRP team?
2. How will team members be identified and selected?
3. Does your organization have the skills needed to get the job done?
4. How many people will be involved in the DRP process (per phase)?
5. Will external resources be required (i.e. DRP consultants)?
6. How will all the required resources be organized for optimum productivity?
7. Are all DRP resources located at a single site, or at multiple locations?
8. How will effective team communication be maintained?

Organizing Principles for DRP Team Composition

Effective DRP teams will be structured to ensure that all the disaster recovery "planning bases" are sufficiently covered. Team structure must account for proper leadership (someone to manage the team), organizational expertise (team members who represent the executive, legal and regulatory interests), operational expertise (team members who bring business operational knowledge and interests), technical expertise (team members who bring technology and IT management expertise) and administrative capabilities (team members who will coordinate and administer DRP activities). This structure is reflected in the chart below:

5 Functional Elements for DRP Team Structure

Of course, it takes more than an organizational chart to deliver DRP team success. As a matter of "good practice", every DRP team should be organized according to the following defining principles:

  • The team must have a defined mission that is aligned to the IT management vision.
  • The team must be structured in order to facilitate operational needs.
  • The team must operate under an approved charter.
  • Collaboration and cooperation are the keys to success.

And, communication is key. Team resources should be well-informed and well aware of all DRP goals and objectives. Any significant disaster event will impact a business as a "whole", and as such, all sides of the business entity must be represented in the DRP team. This is essential to ensure that the actual "Disaster Recovery Plan" covers all the angles (technical, financial, operational and administrative).  (Read More:  Evaluating Project Team Performance).

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