The Disruption Dirty Dozen: Asking the hard DR questions Posted on March 14, 2013 by Tim Burke Regardless of their cause(s), your ability to minimize business disruptions depends on planning that’s based on a granular understanding of the risks posed to your business processes. This planning begins with understanding who your key stakeholders are, how your organization conducts business, and what sorts of disruptions are likeliest at your locations (note that recent studies indicate power failures, hardware failures, and network failures account for more than 80% of IT-related disruptions). Then you’ll need to ask, answer, and drill down into these 12 questions — what I call the Disruption Dirty Dozen … Which constituencies would disruption impact? For how long? At what cost? Could your business’s ability to comply with any regulations be affected by a disruption? What functionalities must be restored to get things back in operation? How will you communicate with those affected by a disruption? Who are the critical people you need to get things going again? How will they do what’s necessary when they can’t get to their workplace? How can you communicate with all employees (and perhaps customers, suppliers, and partners) when you don’t have access to normal channels? Do employees have devices and/or services (e.g., notebooks, desktops-as-a-service) that allow them to work remotely? Do you need a secondary location where employees can get back to work? If so, what capabilities will you need to provide at that site? Has anyone written any of this down? Do the people in your company practice their response to a business disruption? Do you conduct tabletop tests, during which employees emulate an actual disruption and play out how each ought to respond? How often? And how often do you update your business continuity plan to account for changes to your business and the technologies it uses (e.g., staff changes, use of virtual systems, mobile devices, etc.)? Sometimes you’ll find worsening situations. Most organizations are juggling much more data than only a few years ago, and one recent study reveals that nearly 20% of U.S. IT managers have not told their CEOs about data they haven’t backed up. Other trends can play out to your DR benefit. If you’ve moved to a hybrid environment combining onsite and cloud backup/replication, you’ve likely seen improvements in both your ability to recover data and keep it secure. And if you’ve deployed desktops-as-a-service, your employees can work at home as easily as at the office when weather disrupts travel. You can learn more about DR planning and ways to ease DR burdens at Quest CTO Mike Dillon’s upcoming Master Your Disaster webinar on March 20 at 10 AM PDT.