How Disaster Recovery Plans Work

What to Include in a Disaster Recovery Plan

The plan should include employees' contact information.
The plan should include employees' contact information.
Wesley Hitt/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The safety of personnel and their families should be the first priority of any disaster recovery plan. In a white paper published by SunGard called "Lessons Learned from Katrina", the authors say that successful plans not only account for the transportation and safe lodging of employees, but of their families as well. Once family members are safe, employees have a greater chance of being able to concentrate on helping the company.

Each employee should be trained in his role in the disaster recovery plan. Back-up personnel should be designated in the case that an employee is not available, and obviously the back-ups need to receive the same training. Frequent audits of the plan should be made to ensure that the same people are still employed in the same roles with the same contact information.

Multiple lines of communication are crucial to any good disaster recovery plan. Detailed lists of employee and vendor contact information are a minimum. Some companies sign up with third-party conferencing and emergency communications services to send automated messages in times of crisis. The messages can be sent from any platform (phone, e-mail, SMS) and received on any platform.

An advantage of these conferencing services is that individuals can easily update their contact information and indicate the fastest way to reach them in an emergency. Emergency communications services also have the ability to call everyone on the contact list at the same time, ringing pagers, cell phones and sending e-mails until receipt of the message is confirmed.

A third-party disaster recovery specialist can also provide a company with alternate workspaces in the event that the regular office is unavailable. Not only do these workspaces have all of the necessary equipment to do business (desks, phones, PCs, Internet access), but they also have access to all of the company's data. This is because the disaster recovery company has been regularly backing up and storing the company's data in an off-site facility.

After personnel, data back-up and recovery comes next. Experts recommend that data either be backed up on hard disks and stored in an off-site facility or be uploaded to third-party servers at on off-site facility. Depending on the business, this upload process can happen once a month or in real-time.

As part of the BIA process, certain types of data should be identified as crucial to running the business. The back-up and recovery plan should reflect those priorities. Security measures should also be included in this section of the plan so that all employees are trained in the safeguarding of the company's systems and sensitive data.

Read on to find out about insuring relationships with vendors and some more advantages of third-party disaster recovery services.