IT Recovery Strategy Development
Ensuring project focus
Prior to developing IT and comms recovery strategies it is important to consider the actual or potential budget availability to implement solutions. This will help to ensure that the options considered are appropriate and realistic. It is better to put in place a solution that improves upon the current position and moves towards satisfying the business requirements rather than presenting something to management that will not approved.
Adopting an effective approach
The ideal tool to aid facilitation of discussions to develop IT and comms recovery strategies is a Resource Recovery Requirements Table that clearly defines the “required” recovery time objective for each IT and comms resource. Ideally this should also include a column stating the current “achievable” recovery time as this will clearly show the gaps that need to be focused upon. It should not be necessary to have a row for every application, system or service as there will be opportunities to link some together where their separation would not serve any purpose (e.g. a group of applications that all depend upon the same server/s, technology and infrastructure that would always be recovered together).
In Teed’s experience the best approach for considering recovery strategy options is through the facilitation of interviews and workshops involving technical representatives. Addressing each resource in a logical order and identifying potential options for achieving the required recovery times allows initial thoughts to be defined. Further discussion will allow options to be whittled down to the most appropriate and cost effective based upon current technology available.
Gaining agreement on appropriate strategy
When it proves difficult to gain agreement on the appropriate solution, running a desktop exercise often proves effective it getting agreement around the table – technical representatives will respond to a scenario that causes the loss of IT and comms services assuming that a solution has been wholly or partially implemented. Information wallboards will be completed that define the order of recovery activity, when each resource is likely to be recovered and any issues that are raised. A post exercise review will usually result in agreement of what strategy options are actually most appropriate.
Teed consultants will provide examples during the discussions of what has or has not worked with other organisations previously. It is important to keep discussions focused and the consultant will ensure that each issue is discussed at an appropriate level of detail to agree feasibility of a strategy – the lower level detail can be left until the plan development and implementation stages of the project. Teed consultants have a good appreciation of the third party options available and will provide wholly independent advice in this respect. However, the focus upon achieving recovery using internal resources will be given first priority before considering external options.
The solution options
Due to improvements in technology and reduced costs, many organisations are choosing to implement solutions that involves the setting up of key secondary services at an offsite computer room facility, whether this be another company site or a third party data centre. However, other options should also be considered as an alternative or to complement this strategy to ensure that any investment is wholly justified by the actual business requirements.
Presenting output in useable form
Teed consultants will collate the relevant information within an IT DR Recommendations Report that clearly defines the recovery strategy options that are appropriate and why. Usually there will be an obvious option that stands out as appropriate as it ensures the IT and comms requirements of the business are satisfied without spending more time and money on implementing solutions than is necessary. However, we are usually asked to provide several options to allow management to make the decision to ensure that the level of investment is balanced against any residual business risk, e.g.:
- Comprehensive solution - meets and exceeds IT and comms recovery requirements and provides day-to-day additional benefits
- Recommended solution – satisfies minimum IT and comms recovery requirements of the business in a cost effective manner
- Reduced cost solution – improves upon current position but not satisfying all business expectations
We are often asked to attend a management meeting to present recommendations and respond to questions. 15-30 minutes will usually be sufficient to obtain appropriate direction to allow project to progress.