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How is Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

Disaster Recovery 1 123rf.com_45578685_sEvery good executive and any well-run organisation has a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). For the last half century or more – ever since computers became an integral part of doing business, and perhaps even before that – a plan for meeting and recovering from disaster has been deemed an essential part of  good organisational governance. The Coronavirus pandemic provides a glaring example of why you need one. Unfortunately, it also provides a good example of poor Disaster Recovery Planning.

Naturally it isn’t possible to predict a disaster – its timing, its cause or its effects. So a DRP must be generic and prepare you for any catastrophic threat. Nevertheless different threats may require different actions and as far as practically possible these should be identified, anticipated and addressed. Unless you are in the healthcare or well-being industry it is unlikely that you will have made any contingency for the effects of a pandemic. Now I guess you know better and will ensure that you are better prepared for any future instance. For the healthcare industry, however, things are different.

In healthcare, a pandemic is more of a probability than a possibility. Therefore it is something you need to be perpetually prepared for. Granted you cannot anticipate the specific disease at the root of the crisis, but you will know that it is a) a disease and b) contagious. This means that there will be much you could treat as “standard.” In fact the World Health Organisation (WHO) has created basic guidelines for dealing with a pandemic. You would thus think that this would form the nucleus of a DRP. Why then does the general handling of the Coronavirus pandemic appear to have been so badly managed in so many countries?   

Most governments claim to comply with WHO requirements. Thus it follows that they should have had a plan in place for dealing with a pandemic. It is perhaps premature to criticise or judge before any balanced assessment can be undertaken and the various different approaches taken can be compared. It may or may not be possible to verify government claims, but it seems clear that if they did have a plan they never tested it. One of the key aspects of a DRP is that it is regularly tested. How else do you gauge your organisational preparedness?

In this instance you need look no further than the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available when the crisis broke. It seems pretty obvious that any contagious disease will make demands on your frontline healthcare workers at the very least and that they will need protective gear in order to limit the contagion and spread of the disease. So how come we not only did not have enough available, but took so long to acquire the additional supplies being pleaded for? Certainly if the pandemic is global there will competition for the equipment but any effective plan should offer enough for immediate needs as well as provide clear steps for additional sourcing or manufacture.   

Of course, unless you are in the healthcare industry, it is unlikely that you will have made any specific provision for the pandemic in your DRP. Or even for the possible immediate drying up of all your revenue that may have arisen as a result. As a result you are probably too busy trying to salvage your business to even think about your DRP.  You will, undoubtedly, pay greater attention to it in future.

Accordingly, as soon as you are operating properly again – even if it isn’t at the same levels as before the pandemic – I would recommend you take a fresh look at your DRP. After all your DRP provides a proper starting point for launching and conducting a post-disaster review. Thus it will give you the chance to:

  1. Review your existing plan and how effective it was.
  2. Assess the actions you actually took and see to what extent you had or hadn’t included them in your original plan.
  3. Update your plan to create something better that will help mitigate the effect of any future disasters. and save lives. most of us now know, the basic requirements to deal with any pandemic are:

This will be the last thing on your mind or that you feel like doing, but it is nevertheless a priority. The pandemic proves that disasters are not necessarily intrinsic to your organisation, and thus, in a global economy, may be increasingly frequent. After all it is not all that long since the Great Recession of 2008 and, hard as the after-effects of that one were, the consequences of this one may be even more severe. Certainly they will make it more imperative that you are prepared for any eventuality.

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If you like what you have read contact me today to explore how my original thinking could help you break though logjams that are inhibiting your business or how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model could help you value your people and provide the catalyst to help you create an organic culture where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, embedding continuous improvement that engenders ‘love at work’ and transforms – and sustains – organic business performance.

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Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organizational culture model that helps transform organizational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.

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