As a Business Continuity practitioner with more than 20 years of experience, I have seen, reviewed and created many continuity and disaster recovery plans. I have seen them in various shapes and sizes, from a meager 35 row spreadsheet to more than 1,000 pages in 3-ring binders. In most of these plans the planner’s intent was evident – check the “DR Plans completed” box.
There are many different types of plans that may be called in to play when a disruption occurs – Emergency Health & Safety, Crisis Management, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Pandemic Response, Cyber Security Incident Response, Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plans and more.
The essence of all these plans is to define “what” action is to be taken, “when” it has to be performed and “who” is assigned that responsibility.
Plans are the definitive guide to response to a disruption, and should be unambiguous and concise, while simultaneously providing all the data needed for informed decision making.
The effectiveness of plans is a measure of how flexibly a plan can be modified to suit the actual disruption (vs. some planned scenario). – All the “What”, “When” and the “Who” aspects of a plan should be changeable in response to the actual situation.
Plans should facilitate real-time collaboration to support the “when” and “who” aspects of the response. When tasks are complete, the teams responsible for successor tasks should be alerted, automatically, without manual intervention.
Plans should incorporate ‘milestones’ that can be utilized to facilitate monitoring, measuring and managing response plan execution. Senior Executives will require real-time status updates of response and recovery activities so they can inform their stakeholders of the status of service restoration.
Informational Plans are a treasure trove of reference material – mission statements, policy guidelines, plan assumptions and pages of information that may be useful but are not specific actionable plans.
Remember that effective plans are the ones that focus on Responding, Recovering and Restoring some valuable assets or services. Write plans to achieve this objective.