While IT tends to start and end anything with the tech involved, DR planning requires starting with the business and the risk of losing operations and planning recovery from there.

Your technology DR plan can’t just be a culmination of steps to be taken to recover a certain data set or bring a given system or application back online; it should be a reflection of what the business needs to operate, calling on IT to perform very specific tasks that will restore those operations in a designated order and manner.

A formal DR plan involves a business impact analysis and a risk assessment – and there’s good reason for it; in fact, three that we’ll cover in this article:

Reason 1: The Business Is at Risk

Keeping a business running is never a guarantee; it’s best effort. The technologies, platforms, applications, systems, etc. all put in place all fully intend on meeting the expectations of the business, running continually as needed. But, the reality is that even a well-running business operation is susceptible to outages that can bring operations to a halt.  According to the folks over at Spiceworks during last year’s National Prepared Month, businesses suffer all kinds of outages from the very infrastructure they assume will remain running.

Source: Spiceworks

In essence, every business is at risk of some kind of disruption that will halt operations. The greater the risk, the greater the demand for IT to be prepared with a DR plan to respond in kind.

Reason 2: Risk Dictates Priority

Risk isn’t just about how likely a power outage or hardware failure will occur; it’s also about what is the risk to the business if a particular business function suffers an outage and how that impacts the business. For example, if you worked for one of the major banks and their entire customer-facing infrastructure (think website and mobile app backend) went down, that presents a ton more risk to the business than, say, if your ability to just schedule appointments with a banking advisor went down.

You’re obviously not going to start recovering from a disaster on systems, say, alphabetically; you need to understand where the business’ greatest risks are to establish the prioritization of your efforts.

Reason 3: The DR Plan is a Risk Remediation Tool

It may come as a surprise, but when looking beyond the detailed recovery steps you document in a DR plan, the plan itself is a tool used to remedy the risk introduced by a disruption and nothing more. The recovery work you perform is merely the means to remediation.

As you can see, DR planning is completely about risk.  Without the concept of risk, it’s just IT blindly restoring data, systems, and applications with complete disregard for the needs of the business. Because risk is the basis for your DR plan, it’s absolutely critical to be approaching the planning continually through the lens of risk.