Simple Strategies for Disaster Recovery Plan Activation

  • from

Image of two lane country road with the word 'Start' across the road depicting the start of the disaster recovery activation process.

A well defined and documented Disaster Recovery Plan is an insurance policy - you certainly need one, but you also hope you never have to use it. That said, if the need arises, you must also know that you will be ready and able to respond.  That's why it's so important to clearly define every aspect of "plan activation".  Read on for more.

Activation is the means by which the actions contained in a documented DRP are initiated and executed.  A qualifying event occurs and planned steps are taken.  A defined activation process makes it easier to realize every benefit of proactive disaster recovery planning. To ensure timely activation, related steps and procedures must address multiple needs and requirements, accounting for life safety, chain of command, escalation and effective communication.

How can you be sure that your activation procedures are sufficiently relevant, realistic and actionable?  Plan testing is an absolute necessity, but your first step is to ensure that all activation needs have been fully accounted for.  To that end, activation procedures should be defined according to three (3) primary guidelines:

  1. Activation scope must incorporate five (5) key elements to ensure that related procedures are fully actionable (considering DRP scope and specifics).
  2. Activation guidelines must focus on triggering events and conditions, to clearly analyze and evaluate current circumstances, and to determine whether the DRP will be activated.
  3. Activation steps must be defined so that they can be executed in a consistent, orderly fashion.  Everyone should know what they need to do and how they need to do it.

Work Smarter

Even under the best of circumstances, management is a challenge. When you learn to fast track, you’ll learn to work smarter, not harder. And that’s the value of every lesson, resource and template available at Fast Track Manage Learning. We teach you how to fast track your way to successful projects, committees and more. Learn More

Five (5) Keys of Activation Scope

Activation scope the totality of all related strategies and procedures to ensure that the DRP can be invoked when needed, and in an orderly, effective fashion, encompassing the following (5) elements:

  • Activation Criteria. To identify the specific disaster conditions triggering plan activation (according to type, severity, impact and duration).
  • Assessment Procedures. To evaluate potential disaster events in order to ensure that activation criteria have been met.
  • Approval Mechanisms. To obtain appropriate approvals for plan activation, considering IT management personnel, line of business management personnel, and company executives.
  • Activation Logistics. To ensure that all facilities and systems are available as needed to support plan activation, including the designated Command Center location, where most, if not all, disaster recovery "command and control" activities can be executed.
  • Communication Procedures. To inform all employees, and other interested parties (customers, vendors, suppliers, the public) of all activation related decisions and activities.

Activation Guidelines Focus on Event Analysis

One of the most important steps in DRP activation is to know whether activation is appropriate.  Not every problem event will qualify as a "disaster", and although it might appear otherwise on the surface, DRP activation is not always appropriate.  "Event analysis" is used to determine whether DRP activation is warranted.  As activation procedures are planned, event analysis practices must be sufficiently defined through the following questions:

  1. What types of events will trigger plan activation?
  2. How will these events be evaluated to ensure that plan activation is appropriate?
  3. Who will be involved in the event assessment process?
  4. How will assessment recommendations be escalated to the appropriate decision makers?
  5. Who must approve plan activation?
  6. How many approvals are required?
  7. How will plan activation be communicated?

Activation Steps for Orderly Execution

Above all, whenever a DRP must be activated, responding action must be immediate and effective.  A disaster is no time to figure out what to do "in order to respond".  You need to focus on action and the specifics of the event at hand -- not on the uncertainty involved.  To that end, a standardized approach to DRP activation must address the four (4) factors of disaster recovery capability:  to react, to respond, to recover and to evaluate.  The following listing summarizes each factor and the primary steps involved.

React: A potential triggering event is recognized and acknowledged.

  1. The Disaster Recovery Coordinator is notified that a potential disaster event has occurred.
  2. The Disaster Response Team is alerted and evaluation steps are initiated.
  3. The event is evaluated to determine whether the DRP should be activated.  If the activation criteria are met, the approved DRP is activated.  Note: If the disaster criteria have not been met, the event will likely be treated as a "problem", and the appropriate problem management plan/process should be activated.

Respond: The Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is activated.

  1. Life safety procedures are initiated as required.
  2. Response and recovery procedures are initiated as appropriate to the disaster type, severity and duration.
  3. Communication procedures are initiated as required.
  4. DRP activities are executed and maintained as needed until permanent recovery is realized.

Recover: To restore operations once the triggering event is resolved.

  1. Take any steps needed to resume normal technology operations and related technical support services (replace damaged hardware, consolidate data, etc.).
  2. Maintain close communication with end-users, customers and technical support staff to ensure that all issues have been identified, addressed and resolved.

Evaluate: To learn from the activation and recovery experience to improve future response capabilities.

  1. Conduct the DRP "lessons learned analysis" to evaluate DRP relevancy, quality and effectiveness.
  2. Apply identified "lessons learned" to improve future DRP performance.
Source: Unless noted otherwise, all content is created by and for

About Us

Right Track Logo staff writers have experience working for some of the largest corporations, in various positions including marketing, systems engineering, help desk support, web and application development, and IT management. is part of Right Track Associates, proprietors and publishers of multiple web sites including, Fast Track Manage, HOA Board List and more. We started in 2001 and have continued to grow our web site portfolio, Toolkit products, and related data services. To learn more, visit us at Right Track Associates.

Stay Informed

Useful information without inbox overload.

we do not sell our list

subscribe now
I.T. Service Planning The Fast Track Project Toolkit Start For Free

The IT Service Strategy Toolkit teaches you how to fast track IT service planning using the time-saving “service strategy process”. The goals are simple... to manage IT departments, services and projects in a common-sense manner, to align business and technology, and realize maximum value, acceptance, and utilization - all at the lowest overhead costs. It’s all about adding value, in less time and with greater success. Get lifetime access to a growing IT service curriculum of lessons, videos, reference materials, templates and more. Start for free.

Committee Management The Project Committee Toolkit Start For Free

The Project Committee Toolkit teaches you how to manage successful committees using the "committee concept" process. Committees are one of the most effective ways to organize, deliberate and make decisions. But too often, committee success is hampered by conflict and bureaucracy. When you follow the committee concept process, you’ll learn to avoid these pitfalls and ensure that your committees are properly formed, managed and staffed. Get lifetime access to a growing committee management curriculum of lessons, videos, reference materials, templates and more. Start for free.

Project Management The Fast Track Project Toolkit Start For Free

The Fast Track Project Toolkit teaches you how to deliver on-time, on-plan projects using "strategic project fast tracking". The fast track approach is a time-saving methodology, designed specifically for "real world" project circumstances - when you are being asked to do more than time and resources may allow. Fast tracking is the way to work around these obstacles and deliver prioritized results. Get lifetime access to a growing project planning curriculum of lessons, videos, reference materials, templates and more. Start for free.