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Monday, 29 October 2007 21:10

Disaster Recovery Planners: Don't Get Frustrated

Written by  Mitchell Milstein
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Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP) can be a thankless and frustrating job. The key is not falling into the rut of not caring. DRP is important to every company and can be critical to their survival Even though upper management may not realize it, you as a disaster recovery planner are a key player in the organization. It is your responsibility to make them understand why disaster recovery planning could be essential to their long-term survival. Obviously this is easier said than done. If you are truly committed to enhance the future direction of disaster recovery planning and you care about your company’s success, you should be self motivated enough to continually push for their recognition of such a program. But be careful how hard you push. You don’t want to push yourself out of a job.

Disaster planners have to learn to deal with many day-to-day problems, including lack of consistent direction, indecision, low levels of authority, and poor reporting structures. If you are going to make an impact on how your company’s DRP program should be established you must control your frustrations. In fact, turn the energy generated from your frustration into a tool to diplomatically bring the issues to the service. Be smart and be careful not to send the wrong signals to management. DRP is a relatively new field for most companies. Understand that and be sensitive.

There is nothing more frustrating than to hear, "we can’t afford to budget the DRP this year" or, "you’re going to have to manage with the staff you have." No money, no resources adds up to no management commitment. The question you need to ask yourself is, "what can I do about it?" Before you attempt to make management aware of why they need to plan for disaster situations, have a well thought out plan of attack. You better know what you are talking about and be able to specifically relate it to your company’s business. They need to understand the actual impact of a disaster and the financial ramifications it could have. You need to be able to specifically quantify these impacts down to as finite levels as possible. A risk analysis or assessment is a good way to open some eyes. Management usually can’t quite equate the loss (short or long term) of business functionality to the substantial amounts of potential dollar losses. It is easy for them to add up potential physical losses (building and equipment). A risk analysis can provide them with potential delay losses (loss of data, processing, and, in turn, market shares) which are many times that of physical losses. Be cautious, though, this could have an inverse effect putting you in a different type of frustrating environment; that being one of management paranoia. You could end up with the pressures of slam dunking a plan together.

Remember, even though disaster recovery planning is normally a forgotten job, a glorified insurance policy, it could prevent your company from filing for Chapter 11. Be cool, be calm, be persistent, your determination could someday save your company. Disaster planning is important and without caring planners like yourself and recent media thrust providing needed awareness will surely die. Control your frustrations, understand where you are, where we are, and where we soon could be; don’t quit, keep fighting for your company’s understanding and commitment. Companies and lives are at stake, someday your efforts will pay off. It might be your company or life that you save.

Mitch Milstein is the DRP Project Manager for MCI.

This article adapted from Vol. 4 No. 2, p. 60.

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