Sungard Offers Five Cornerstones for Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Business continuity management software vendor offers tips for protecting your assets

Business and technology environments are more complex than ever and the reliance on information technology is firmly entrenched in the success factors of most organizations. Being prepared to respond to situations - both planned and unexpected - that threaten to disrupt essential business systems and processes, is a major corporate concern.

A recent survey commissioned by SunGard Availability Services and conducted by Harris Interactive, found that disaster recovery planning is a priority for many organizations. Eighty-six percent of IT executives said they have a disaster recovery plan in place at their organization. While the economy has impacted IT budgets overall, 43 percent of IT respondents indicated the economy has not impacted their disaster recovery investment (including planning), with another 33 percent saying investment in disaster recovery has become more important.

"Organizations can't control whether or not they will be affected by a natural disaster, power outage or other unplanned incident, but they can work to help ensure their business is prepared to respond to and recover from these events with minimal impact," said Brian Turley, senior vice president and general manager, software solutions at SunGard Availability Services. "Disaster recovery planning is an organizational imperative that can help reduce risk and help companies effectively respond to situations that threaten to disrupt essential business processes."

To help organizations in developing disaster recovery plans, SunGard offers the following counsel.

The plan starts with employee safety. Every disaster recovery plan needs to begin by addressing the physical safety and psychological well-being of employees. That means the plan must include alternative locations where employees can go if a primary work site is unavailable, as well as incident notification and escalation strategies. Also, the plan needs to be well communicated throughout the organization so everyone knows how to respond in a disaster situation.

Conduct a business impact analysis. Carry out a thorough analysis of people, information, application, and other resources to build an understanding of the consequences -- financial and operational -- of losing vital components. Take particular care to uncover interdependencies across the organization that are critical to staying in business. This analysis will provide a solid foundation for establishing recovery priorities and timeframes in your plan, allowing you to make informed decisions on where and how much to invest in disaster recovery.

Don't plan in a vacuum. You need to involve all key stakeholders in the planning process, including IT, business leaders, human resources, corporate communications, and physical and information security managers. Be sure that in planning you coordinate with other business units in your organization to avoid potential conflicts, such as multiple business units depending on the same facility as a secondary site in response to an interruption. Discovering these conflicts for the first time during a disaster can cause a "second disaster" in your recovery efforts.

Build a living document. Business processes and IT systems undergo constant change in every organization. Your disaster recovery plan needs to keep pace with new workflows, business applications and computer systems. Disaster recovery planning software can provide best practices methodologies to help you navigate through planning decisions and plan updates. Also, regular testing will help you demonstrate your ability to recover and pinpoint areas for plan improvements.

Your plan can advance your business and marketing goals. For many companies, a disaster recovery plan is an untapped resource in business partner and customer relationships. Having a recovery plan in place can boost your credibility as a reliable company that is able to meet service and support commitments following a disaster -- helping your competitive advantage.

SunGard business continuity management software helps organizations build and maintain disaster recovery plans with an industry-standard planning tool. By leveraging a common platform, it enables data consistency across multiple planning, testing and execution-management processes, as well as seamless enterprise reporting.