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The Proof is in the Paper, on TV

ed_devlinAs I begin to write one of my final columns, I think back to when I first became involved with the BCP industry. I remember presenting the concept of “Disaster Recovery Planning” at the first seminar my company sponsored on Dec. 4, 1973. The initial discussions of the seminar covered the following:
  • What is a disaster recovery plan?
  • Why should you have one?
  • How do you develop one?
  • What are the pitfalls in planning & implementation?
Then the step by step discussions of the seminar revolved around a company’s policy for the following three items:
  • Data retention, rotation & retrieval
  • Short term recovery plan
  • Long term recovery plan
Finally, the discussions moved to items such as:
  • Responsibility plan (individuals responsibilities during a recovery operation)
  • Application priorities
  • System requirements
  • Back-up sites
  • Storage areas
  • Insurance considerations
Nearly 40 years later, I realize how simplistic our thinking was then. But then, compared to today, the data processing mission and technology were simplistic 40 years ago as well.

As many project leaders in the early years of developing disaster recovery plans found out, the key objection placed in their way was justifying the cost to develop and document a viable DRP.


Most executives focused on preventing a disaster, not recovering from a disaster. Their opinion was: “It will never happen.” Why spend money and time on something that would never happen. And then they would add the additional thought, “And if it does happen, it won’t happen to us.”

Now the stories in the newspapers and on television prove that it can happen.

As I write this article, we’re still unsure of the final count of people killed in the Joplin, Mo., tornado. Last month, Tuscaloosa, Ala., was struck with a massive tornado. As we see what’s occurring around the world, the biblical floods in Australia, the massive earthquake in Japan, with the resulting tsunami, followed by the nuclear plant meltdown, I can’t help but think that executives must finally change their thinking and realize that “It can happen to me.”

This change in thinking should result in a reversal of the current policy of cutting the DR/BCP budget to a policy of approving an increase to the budget for DR/BCPs. Especially the budget for the exercising of these plans to insure that they will work “when” something happens to their organization.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this column, I will only be writing a couple more columns. Disaster Recovery Journal has been like my home away from home when it comes to DR/BCP. DRJ has allowed me to speak to you all for the last 20 years. In addition to my column, Rich and Bob Arnold have asked me to be an active participant in every DRJ conference.

I will be participating in the next two conferences. I’m working with Chris Durfee of MailGard on the San Diego “mock exercise.” We hope to challenge the attendees but also provide an opportunity to have fun. I know the industry is in good hands, and I’m sure that the attendees of the mock exercise will prove that point.

I’m also working on my final presentation which is scheduled for the DRJ’s Spring World 2012 in Orlando. The topic will be: “And Miles To Go Before I Sleep: Protecting Your Organization’s Reputation.” During this presentation, I will discuss a number of crises. I will identify examples of organizations that performed extremely well during their crisis as opposed to other organizations that dropped the ball and suffered for it.

Hope to see you in San Diego for Fall World 2011, Sept.11-14, 2011.

Ed Devlin, CBCP, has provided business recovery planning consulting services since 1973 when he co-founded Devlin Associates. Since then, Devlin has assisted more than 300 companies in the writing of their business recovery plans and has made more than 800 seminars and presentations worldwide.