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Getting Your Disaster Recovery Plan Funded - with an Awesome Business Impact Analysis, Part 1

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In the first of a three-part series, Leo A. Wrobel and Sharon M. Wrobel discuss some of the crazy ideas that you may have about why management won't fund your disaster recovery plan. You need to revise your thinking to create a successful business impact analysis that will put money in your budget.
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There’s an old saying I’ve often quoted: "Lawyers use figures the way a drunk uses a lamppost—for support, rather than illumination." It’s kind of like that when you decide to take the plunge and ask management to fund a disaster recovery plan. The figures you use and the presentation you make can support your plan and illuminate management—but only if you do it correctly. If you put together a compelling business impact analysis (BIA) and conclusively convince management of the vulnerability that exists in the organization’s environment, your recovery plan WILL be funded.

That statement brings to mind a routine from Larry Fine of "Three Stooges" fame:

Rich Guy: "If you had a dollar, and your father gave you another dollar, how many dollars would you have?"

Larry: "One dollar."

Rich Guy: "You don’t know your arithmetic!"

Larry: "You don’t know my father!"

If you substitute the word boss for father, it probably closely approximates the thought that went through your mind the instant that I said your plan would be funded: "Leo, you don’t know my boss!"

Actually, I do know your boss. Probably not literally, of course, but I have worked with the animal before. Nobody is more acutely aware than I am that money is very hard to come by these days—after all, I work as a consultant. Even so, I’m not starving in this profession (well, most months, anyway). I like to think that this is because, after 25 years in the disaster recovery business, I know a thing or two about convincing skeptical management.

In this three-part series, I’ll impart a few tricks of the trade that might help you to finally get some funding and commitment for your recovery plan. It’s not as tough as you may think, provided that you do your homework in advance.

Let’s start by dispelling a few myths.

Myth 1: Management Doesn’t Care About Disaster Recovery

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Disaster recovery, contingency planning, risk mitigation, or whatever you want to call it is a fundamental and fiduciary responsibility of executive management. The topic often comes up at Board of Directors meetings, and right on down the totem pole. I know from experience, because I’ve been a CEO for a corporation.

By its makeup, a corporation can do anything a person can do—except commit a crime. If that were to happen, the people who lost equity in the corporation due to my (in this example) gross negligence would not stop at suing the corporation—they could come after me as well. Why? Because they can.

This fact is never far from management’s consciousness, particularly since passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which provides a whole bunch of ways in which CEOs and CFOs can be held accountable for things. In fact, you will be every bit as hard-pressed to find an executive who says a disaster recovery plan is a bad idea as to find a person who says a pre-need funeral plan is a bad idea. Most people agree that a pre-need funeral plan—in principal, at least—is a good idea. Having said that, do you have one? How many people do you know who do have one? Answer: Not many.

The same problem exists with recovery plans, which are delayed for many of the same reasons, centering around competing priorities, lack of time, or a sense that it will be too expensive. All of these kinds of concerns can be assuaged through a compelling BIA and crisp presentation that puts the problems in terms the executive can understand.

So what can you expect from your BIA and resulting presentation? I’ve mentioned in lectures and in previous articles that management can respond with one of three answers to a funding request:

  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Let’s study this some more.

Which of the three do you suppose is the most common answer? If you chose "Let’s study this some more," you’re correct, and no doubt have been through such a request process.

So what can you do to get a "Yes" response? I like to stack the deck before going into a meeting to request funding. I’ll show you some of those tricks in this series, but first let’s continue myth-busting with another common misconception:

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