How to Take a Team Approach to Disaster Recovery Planning

The most effective disaster recovery plans and programs depend on the people involved.  Working strategies depend on stakeholder cooperation and collaboration, combining needs and capabilities to form a cohesive program that incorporates business continuity, security and safety.  Read on to learn more about how to take a "team approach" to disaster recovery planning.

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. 

What's the Purpose of a DRP Team?

A "team approach" to disaster recovery planning provides 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, skill, knowledge and staffing 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 consistent 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 process goals, skills, roles and responsibilities.  (Download our free whitepaper Needs Based Planning for IT Disaster Recovery).

Planning for DRP Team Success

Every team deserves the opportunity to succeed.  In order to give your "team" a head start to deliver required results, it must properly assembled and tasked, given all of the necessarily operational tools.  To achieve these results, the following questions must be addressed as part of organizational planning:

  1. What is the specific mission of the DRP "team"?
  2. Who are the DRP stakeholders considering interest in disaster recovery planning and the ability to influence the outcome?
  3. What will each stakeholder contribute to the process considering skills, experience and knowledge.
  4. Who are your decision making stakeholders?
  5. Who are sponsoring stakeholders (to promote disaster recovery planning initiatives)?
  6. How will roles and responsibilities be allocated in order to leverage stakeholder authority, skills, experience and knowledge?
  7. How will work be allocated to complete disaster recovery planning tasks and produce related deliverables?

Organizing Principles for DRP Team Composition

To deliver actionable results, an effective DRP team must be organized according to standardized principles for operational management.  In this fashion, roles and responsibilities can be clearly defined to ensure that all "interests" are being served, and that you have the broadest level of input needed to deliver successful results.  Considering these goals, team composition must account for the following:

  • Authorized leadership (to provide direction, governance and operational authority).
  • 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).
  • Administrative expertise  (team members who will coordinate and administer DRP activities).

Further, as a matter of "good practice", every DRP "team" should "organize and operate" 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).

Continue reading more on "teams" in our featured articles How to Motivate Your Project Team and Evaluating Project Team Performance.

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