When does disaster recovery kick into action?

We tend to think of disaster recovery and disaster preparedness as something that kicks in only very rarely if ever, when things like hurricanes, earthquakes, or acts of war happen. In fact, disasters come in all shapes and sizes. A study by Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal earlier this year asked how often business continuity plans are actually invoked, and got some surprising results.

About half of the respondents actually invoked their business continuity plans at least once over the past five years. And if you're not in hurricane or earthquake country and think that a disaster recovery plan doesn't apply to you, think again. The plans are often invoked not after damage resulting from hurricanes and earthquake, but other types of extreme weather that can plague almost any part of the world. The most common factors that lead to invocation of a disaster recovery plan are extreme weather and natural disasters, power outages, IT failures, telecommunication failures, and fire.

It's valuable to learn from those that have actually had to recover from a disaster, and the survey asked that question, too--and found that there were three valuable lessons learned, which were first of all, companies that actually have had to go through disasters didn't have enough training and awareness ahead of time. Second, the plans that did exist didn't adequately take into account internal communication and collaboration, and third, the plans didn't address workforce continuity to a great enough degree.

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