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Many organizations know the importance of having a disaster recovery plan and are investing in creating such a plan to bring more uptime.

Two aspects that often are neglected in the Disaster Recovery plan are the proper and full documentation of the recovery steps and testing.  These are critical because the robustness of the plan, such as processes, roles and recovery steps are put to the test.  Once the outcome of the DR plan test is successful, it’s imperative to organize and document the recovery steps and testing outcomes. The success of these two aspects of the plan could mean the difference between rapidly restoring uptime or missing the recovery time objective; therefore, not meeting SLAs.

Test IT and also the IT team

Testing the technical component of your DR plan is imperative, but don’t forget to also test the people responsible for the recovery.  Test how they will respond under stressful situations because in the event of a disaster or even when IT systems go down unexpectedly, these stressful conditions will test how well your IT team will react to quickly restore uptime. This means, they will need to quickly access the recovery information to know what to do. Therefore, having a well-documented and accessible disaster recovery run book is essential during these unexpected situations.

From a word or excel document to a full suite crisis management application

A DR run book can be a working document and many organizations use different solutions; from a word document or spreadsheet to a full suite of crisis management software to document and store the DR plan and recovery steps. These options could work fine for many organizations; however, a word document could not be the ideal way of keeping a DR run book.

First, it can be very cumbersome to create and update.  Knowing the dependencies and sequence of recovery steps are an important part of the recovery process and critical for a successful outcome; therefore, using word or excel could make it hard to create and track dependencies between IT services, applications and infrastructure.

In addition, the word or excel document could be difficult to access by the IT team, especially when networks are down.

A solution would be the use of BC/DR applications, but they come with some disadvantages. For example, applications such as crisis management software could be costly, complex and could have a long learning curve when their complexity forces you to develop it in multiple layers and modules. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the complexity of the application you want to implement and if it fulfills all DR requirements of your business.

Don’t forget that Simple is Better

A DR run book is the key piece/tool in a well thought out DR plan and if the solution is easy to use and interactive, it can provide the ability to quickly handle incidents and can help reduce downtime.

This type of solution could work for your organization because it can allow you to create the DR recovery process for each IT service and provide guidance when organizing the dependencies between systems in a hierarchical way.

The DR plan is only useful when it is up to date; therefore, the run book should be easy to update.

It would be of great benefit if it’s easy to access and that it includes the precise information needed to recover within the determined SLAs. As well as be isolated from other applications so as to not require a connection to a network in order for the IT team to get to it rapidly.

In summary, here is a checklist when choosing your DR run book:

  • Intuitive: It should be easy to use where a user’s guide is not a requirement. This makes it possible for new employees to understand it properly even when it is the first time they see it.
  • Interactive: Provides hierarchical dependencies and time guidance to enable to go through the recovery steps in an efficient manner.
  • Easy to update: Business changes happen every day so this is a must
  • Be isolated: so you can use it in any situation
  • Integrate other company departments: it is better when all the departments have a central DR run book, but this can create complexity.  Look for a tool that makes it simple to organize and centralize all department recovery plans!

If you are looking for a solution to fill this gap in your DR plan, check the IDR Manager Software! You can have a tool that gathers critical recovery information, is easy to access and fulfills all the points in the checklist above.  Provides an interactive visualization from which the dependencies between infrastructure, application and services can be easily identified. In the vent of an outage, the IT team can quickly identify the key elements needed to bring the critical systems up.

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