Here it is, probably the part you expected to occupy the majority of your time setting up your Disaster Response Plan: the things your team actually needs to do. These are your Disaster Recovery Action Items.
These items will largely be specific to the type of disaster that you are recovering from. As with a lot of the other aspects of your Disaster Recovery Plan, your Action Items are going to be created along with – not subsequent to – your other parts of your Plan.
General Disaster Recovery Action Items
The immediate actions required may vary depending on the nature of the disaster, so plan accordingly. As per usual, there will be categories of tasks that must be done regardless of the nature of the disaster.
Your Disaster Response Team will need to address the following categories of procedures:
Emergency Response Procedures – the appropriate steps to take in response to a fire, natural disaster, or any other appropriate disaster in order to protect lives and limit damage;
Backup Operations Procedures – the steps to take, in compliance with your Data Backup and Recovery Policy, to ensure that essential data processing operational tasks are able to be conducted as soon as possible following the disruption; and
Recovery Actions Procedures – to best facilitate the rapid restoration of your systems and applications following a disaster.
Emergency Response Procedures
Make sure that your Action Items includes steps that need to be taken in response to a disaster that may mitigate the damage are prioritized, where possible, over pre-determined steps to restore your operations. If you’re able to limit the damage to existing facilities and equipment by taking certain steps immediately, you will likely save your organization significant longer-term costs.
Similarly, your immediate action items must include making a full assessment of the damage caused – disasters are expensive enough without paying to fix things that, it turns out, weren’t actually broken.
Communication regarding the disaster and recovery should be included anomg the Action Items, and should include or be subject to pre-established Communication Procedures outlining who is responsible for communicating with employees, customers, vendors, authorities, and the media concerning the disaster. It would be wise to include guidelines about what information may or may not be appropriate to provide depending on the individual disaster.
Critical and Dependent Disaster Recovery Action Items
Not all of the tasks among your Action Items are created equal. There are certain tasks, which we will call Critical Action Items, that must be performed (or need to be performed within a certain time period) and thus should be given priority over even other important, but not immediately necessary tasks. Additionally, you will have tasks that either cannot or should not be performed until certain other tasks have been completed, called Dependent Tasks.
Your list must clearly identify any tasks that are Critical Action Items, to ensure that they are given the appropriate priority. Your Dependent Action Items must not only be identified, but the tasks upon which they are dependent must also be identified or easily able to be determined.
You should also separately communicate to your Team each of the Critical or Dependent Action Items, to clear up any questions or confusion before a disaster occurs.
Other Disaster Recovery Action Item Considerations
Your Disaster Recovery Action Items may, depending on the nature of the disaster, need to include activities related to your company’s equipment (hardware and software), the location of digital backups and physical storage facilities (as well as procedures for restoring systems from same), pre-determined locations for Disaster Recovery Sites, Facility Re-Location procedures, and Emergency Assistance procedures in the event employees or others are in need of medical/rescue assistance due to the disaster.
Make sure your Action Items include post-recovery activities, such as contacting customers and vendors and making changes to any timelines for deliverables, projects, or anything else that may have been impacted by the disaster. It can be hard not to sit back and take a deep breath once the immediate issues are handled, but if your business has suffered significant damage due to a disaster, there will unfortunately be ripple effects and smaller issues to solve for quite some time.
Create a Recovery Activity Timeline
Establish an order of events to be completed, with as much detail as necessary, for your Disaster Recovery Team to follow. However, leave room for improvisation. Remember, flexibility is key, and even the best Disaster Recovery Plan is unlikely to address every situation you will face in the event of a disaster.
Disaster Recovery Action Items Checklist:
This checklist provides an example checklist for tasks that you might take following a disaster.
- Notify senior management
- Contact and set up disaster recovery team
- Determine degree of disaster
- Implement proper application recovery plan dependent on extent of disaster
- Monitor progress
- Contact backup site and establish schedules
- Contact all other necessary personnel–both user and data processing
- Contact vendors–both hardware and software
- Notify users of the disruption of service
- List teams and tasks of each
- Obtain emergency cash and set up transportation to and from backup site, if necessary
- Set up living quarters, if necessary
- Set up eating establishments, as required
- List all personnel and their telephone numbers
- Establish user participation plan
- Set up the delivery and the receipt of mail
- Establish emergency office supplies
- Rent or purchase equipment, as needed
- Determine applications to be run and in what sequence
- Identify number of workstations needed
- Check out any off-line equipment needs for each application
- Check on forms needed for each application
- Check all data being taken to backup site before leaving and leave inventory profile at home location
- Set up primary vendors for assistance with problems incurred during emergency
- Plan for transportation of any additional items needed at backup site
- Take directions (map) to backup site
- Check for additional magnetic tapes, or optical media if required
- Take copies of system and operational documentation and procedural manuals.
- Ensure that all personnel involved know their tasks
- Notify insurance companies