The concept of building a DR plan is far more complex than you think and requires some planning before IT ever puts proverbial “pen to paper” writing up how you’ll address a disaster.

I remember a ridiculous mock final exam question that has stuck with me over the years – “Define the Universe, be brief and provide three examples.” Huh… What? The idea of trying to take, well… everything and cram it into something “brief” is impossible.  A DR plan is a little like this.  There’s going to be a lot more effort than you think going into building a plan – so much that the plan is going to encompass the entire “universe” of your organization – both in detail, work flow, and personnel. So, it’s necessary before beginning the work of building a DR plan, that you first consider making an overarching plan of how you’ll build the DR plan specifically.

There are three primary reasons behind the need to establish a strategy of how you’ll build a DR plan, prior to sitting down and beginning to work on the recovery details.

Reason #1 – The Organizations Needs to Care First

Specifically, the executive team and (if applicable) the board of directors.

You’re going to need to involve much, if not all, of the organization in the process.  People to help build the plan, users to be trained on what to do differently in a disaster scenario, etc.

You’re also going to potentially find that a proper execution of a DR plan is going to require shifts in what software, recovery infrastructure, and personnel you use.

So, as part of planning to build a DR plan, you need to first begin taking steps to get the highest parts of the organization to care. That way, as you come to them about needing time, staffing, resources, or budget, you know you already have the support of the organization.

Reason #2 – It’s Not as Simple as Documenting Recovery Steps

There is so much more to a DR plan than the actual steps you’ll be taking during recovery. You’re going to need to perform a business impact analysis and a risk assessment, you’ll need to figure out plan testing, user training, as well as what will be involved with failover and failback of affected business functions. There’s a lot in there that will require some significant time investment on the part of IT and other parts of the business.

Formulating what it’s going to take to develop a proper DR plan will require you to have an understanding of the scope of what it takes to build a detailed plan before you start.

Reason #3 – You Probably Haven’t Done This Before

Most IT pros have certainly performed a bunch of recovery operations. But that’s far different from building a DR plan.  We’re talking about developing a plan of what to do should everything with business operations potentially go completely sideways, and lot can go wrong in practical application.

Understanding your limitations – whether they are related to technical prowess, time available, or inexperience – is critical and should be factored in when beginning to contemplate the building of a DR plan.  Leveraging outside expertise may be a viable choice – but one that should be made before starting the DR planning.

Your Plan Needs a Plan

As you can see, there are some higher-level issues that need to be thought about and addressed before jumping into the actual DR plan.