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Disaster Recovery Template - The Importance of a Disaster Recovery Template for Businesses and Organizations

data collection stage development and testing stage

Businesses face an especially difficult task when rebuilding their operations after a disaster that seriously disrupts their physical plant, data transfer and storage systems, or personnel well being. The fact that a business has so much on site that is vital to its continued functioning – large amounts of digitally stored information, critical business machines (computers and peripherals as well as other equipment) and the employees themselves – means that a plan has to be in place to insure that a disaster that seriously affects these assets can be recovered from as quickly and effectively as possible. Figuring out what to do after a disaster hits is not a viable or recommended approach. Plans have to be already accessible in the event of disaster so that a business or organization hit by disaster can spring immediately into action and begin repairing the damage. Such a plan is known as a disaster recovery plan, a disaster recovery template, or a business continuity plan (or template).
What kind of disasters are we talking about? Really any disasters. They can be natural ones such as fires, earthquakes, tornados, and the like. Or they can be technical crashes and meltdowns such as computer system crashes. They can even be personnel based problems such as strikes, widespread illness, employee violence, and so on. Anything that causes a large break or disruption in the activities of a business can be considered a disaster.
A business that wants to implement a disaster recovery template usually formulates such a plan according to a series of steps. A large part of this is geared to protecting data and connectivity with wide area networks. Repairing or replacing hardware fits into this, but in the information age, protecting data is paramount. The following are some basic steps a business can take to come up with an effective disaster recovery template:

Data Collection Stage

This is the preparation for the actual writing or drafting of the disaster recovery template. In this stage a business gathers and reviews information on the state of its current data storage, retrieval, and transmission processes, on recovery processes already known, on the amount of risk the business faces if a disaster were to hit, and so on. In this phase, onsite and offsite recovery procedures are analyzed as to their effectiveness, alternate business sites are selected (in case destruction of an actual physical location becomes an actual reality), and what is generally know as risk analysis takes place. Both the computer systems and the physical operations of a business, along with any recovery processes already outlined, are reviewed and re-assessed for use in developing the recovery plan. This all takes place on a timeline for the disaster recovery template project itself.

Development and Testing Stage

In this stage, the disaster recovery template is actually developed. All of the information that was gathered in the first stage is formulated into a workable, feasible plan. Such items as the priority of physical plant, data, and personnel recovery steps are itemized and written up in the plan. Different types of disaster scenarios may involve different priorities and steps, so these are accounted for in the assessment steps of the plan. A number of scenarios should be hypothetically entertained so that the business gets a sense of a wide range of different disaster and recovery possibilities. Finally these are all written up into a detailed plan that can be accessed and used as a reference on short notice.
Once the plan is written up, it must be tested. This can take the form of mock disaster scenarios which are run on site, or just further running of hypothetical scenarios. The plans are then evaluated for effectiveness from standpoints of efficiency, thoroughness, monetary profit recovery, workability by personnel, and so forth.
Maintenance and Monitoring Stage

The plan itself must be reviewed and maintained as the business continues to grow and evolve. Periodic checks of the plan in light of any new relevant data or changes in the business or organization’s structure must be conducted. Any changes that become necessary are written into the template. This insures that an outdated plan won’t be all that management has to turn to in case of an emergency.

A disaster recovery template is really vital to the operations of a business or organization and can’t be neglected. Businesses should implement these plans or templates early in their careers and update them at regular intervals as part of their standard operational procedure. A disaster can either sink a business or be used as a stepping stone to greater confidence, organizational know how, and even profitable change. The quality and thoroughness of a disaster recovery template can be the deciding factor as to whether a business bounces back and learns from a disaster in a timely fashion, experiences a longer recovery period than necessary, or goes out of business.

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