Simple Strategies for Disaster Recovery Plan Activation
A well defined and documented Disaster Recovery
Plan is an insurance policy - you certainly need one, but you
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:
- Activation scope must incorporate five (5) key elements to
ensure that related procedures are fully actionable (considering
DRP scope and specifics).
- 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.
- 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.
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)
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
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
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
- What types of events will trigger plan activation?
- How will these events be evaluated to ensure that plan activation
- Who will be involved in the event assessment process?
- How will assessment recommendations be escalated to the appropriate
- Who must approve plan activation?
- How many approvals are required?
- 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
React: A potential triggering event is recognized and
- The Disaster Recovery Coordinator is notified that a potential
disaster event has occurred.
- The Disaster Response Team is alerted and evaluation steps are
- The event is evaluated to determine whether the DRP should be
activated. If the activation criteria are met, the approved DRP is activated.
the disaster criteria have not been met, the event will likely be treated
as a "problem", and the appropriate problem management plan/process should
Respond: The Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is activated.
- Life safety procedures are initiated as required.
- Response and recovery procedures are initiated as appropriate
to the disaster type, severity and duration.
- Communication procedures are initiated as required.
- DRP activities are executed and maintained as needed until permanent
recovery is realized.
Recover: To restore operations once the triggering event is
- Take any steps needed to resume normal technology operations and
related technical support services (replace damaged hardware, consolidate
- Maintain close communication with end-users, customers and technical
support staff to ensure that all issues have been identified, addressed
Evaluate: To learn from the activation and recovery experience
to improve future response capabilities.
- Conduct the DRP "lessons learned analysis" to evaluate DRP relevancy,
quality and effectiveness.
- Apply identified "lessons learned" to improve future DRP performance.
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