Insights into creating a successful Disaster Recovery Test
Part 2 – DR Test Preparations
DR Tests are the only way to measure the effectiveness of a Disaster Recovery Program. Once the objectives of a DR Test are set, the preparation activities can begin. Test preparations include reviewing DR Plans for correctness, collaborating with the various stakeholders, identifying test metrics, and managing logistics.
DR plans are optimally segmented into three groups based on each plan’s scope and the stakeholders involved:
- IT Infrastructure Systems Recovery Plans: owned by IT Infrastructure Teams
- Application Validation Plans: owned by Business Analysts
- End-User Acceptance Test Plans: Business user test procedures prior to end-user hand-over
Owner Teams review the content of the DR Plans to check for completeness and accuracy while also verifying that relevant reference documents are attached. Each DR Plan is checked to ensure that all tasks are assigned a planned completion duration, are properly sequenced to be completed in relation to other tasks, and assigned to recovery teams with the requisite skills.
Once checked, overall estimated recovery time can be determined based on the Critical Path of all plan tasks that are within scope of the test.
DR Tests Metrics:
Based on DR Test objectives, senior management can define the test metrics to be reported on. The primary objective of a DR Test is usually to report on Achievable vs. Planned Recovery Time for all Tier-1/Tier-2 IT applications.
Additionally, for effective management of the recovery process, the Incident Commanders need
real-time status of each application being restored, the DR Plan being executed, as well as staff resource scheduling and availability.
Understanding the various stakeholders involved, their role, and their informational requirements will enhance the overall collaboration and efficiency of the recovery process. This includes creating the Incident Command, Recovery and Administration team participant list after determining the skills required for the test. Once the team participant list is created, a schedule can be set detailing which shifts, roles and skills each member is involved in.
In cases where travel and lodging are required accommodations can be made in time for the exercise.
As a BCP/DR software solution provider, we are regularly called on to assist our enterprise customers to prepare, manage and enhance their DR Test Exercises. As discussed in Part 1 of this blog, one of our power distribution customers had determined that this year’s exercise scope would include fifty-seven Tier 1 and 2 service applications. With more than three million consumer households at stake, disaster preparedness is designated a mission critical program for this organization. Periodic testing and validation of their documented Disaster Recovery Plans is the only way to certify their DR Program as credible and viable.
Part 1 of this blog series detailed the setting of DR Test scope and objectives. Test Preparation is covered here in Part 2. Coming soon, Actual Test Execution is discussed in Part 3, and After Test Review is covered Part.