Seven steps to securing funding of your disaster recovery plan

Forrester Research Inc., Special to SearchCIO.com

In a disaster recovery (DR) report issued earlier this year, Forrester Research Inc. recommended the following seven steps for securing new, additional or ongoing funding of your disaster recovery plans:

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1. Implement a continuity management process. Technology supports disaster recovery preparedness; it does not constitute a strategy or plan. Before you can request funding for technology and services, you need to have a framework in place to manage disaster recovery preparedness as a continuous process, not a one-time event.

2. Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA) and risk assessment. Before IT can request funding, IT professionals must sit down with business owners to identify the company's most critical processes, map dependent IT resources and calculate the cost of downtime. You then must perform a risk assessment to determine the probability and frequency of specific risks.

3. Calculate the cost of downtime. It's critical to understand the cost of downtime because this will help business owners and IT determine acceptable downtime and data loss for each business process and guide future investment in technologies and services.

4. Develop impact scenarios that address all risks, not just "disasters." Business owners and IT must also work with risk management professionals to assess the risks from credible disruptive events, such as power failures, IT failures, human errors, facility failures and natural and manmade disasters. When managers think of disaster recovery preparedness, they often think of preparing for freak events such as hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist acts. The reality is that the most common causes of declared disasters and major business disruptions are much more mundane events, such as power outages and IT failures. Disaster recovery planners and IT operations professionals must help management understand that disaster recovery prepares for not only "disasters" but all potential causes of downtime as well.

5. Position DR as a competitive necessity. Downtime creates an opportunity for competitors to seize market share. Likewise, uptime creates the parallel opportunity to seize market share from competitors. This helps reframe the discussion from disaster recovery as an insurance policy to disaster recovery (or disaster resiliency) as a competitive necessity. Most companies, not just financial services firms, have alternate sites and use advanced replication techniques to protect data. Companies need to keep up with peers and competitors.

6. Develop a DR services catalog. As you work with the business to identify requirements, start planning a DR services catalog. This catalog will be defined by business-process criticality, the expected recovery time and recovery point objectives, the supporting technologies and services, and the cost to deliver this level of disaster recovery preparedness. IT must still develop formal disaster recovery plans but to estimate funding requirements it's necessary to identify the DR technology and services IT will need.

7. Align DR technology investments with other IT initiatives. Many of the technologies that facilitate rapid recovery and data currency also facilitate other IT initiatives such as server, storage and data center consolidation. IT consolidation is critical to reducing costs and improving operational efficiencies, so it's a strategic initiative at many companies.

Let us know what you think about the story; email editor@searchcio.com.

This was first published in December 2008

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