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Getting Your Disaster Recovery Plan Funded - with an Awesome Business Impact Analysis, Part 3

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Leo and Sharon Wrobel conclude their three-part series with an example of the sort of helpful information available to businesses that are interested in relocating to exotic locations. (Or any location, for that matter.) Organizations like the Pacific Disaster Center can provide the details to help you make the right decision.
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Last month we discussed the first two things that management positively needs to know in order to support and fund your disaster recovery planning effort:

  • What can happen? (Fire, flood, hurricane, sabotage, etc.)
  • What is the probability that it will happen? (Expressed best in percent probability of the event in a given year.)

This month we conclude our discussion of techniques for securing approval and funding for your disaster recovery planning effort, discussing two more things that management positively needs to know:

  • What does it cost when it happens? (Think in terms of lost sales, market share, employee productivity, and customer confidence.)
  • What does preventing it cost? (Present a high-level overview of the proposed protective system, procedure, or function.)

Let's take up where we left off, with the failure mode effects analysis (FMEA). After showing where the FMEA fits into your executive presentation, we conclude with a couple more examples that speak specifically to the last two questions above that management must have answered before they endorse and fund your plan. Our hope is to impart some compelling tools that you can use to illustrate both of these issues, even to non-technical executives, which can and will get your plan funded.

Presentation Is Everything

Ask yourself this question: Where can you get the best food in the world? Probable answer: your mother's house. Your mom has lots of experience; the food tastes good; and, if you come from an Italian household like I do, the food is served in massive quantities. If I asked you to come and eat at my mom's house, however, you might be apprehensive. This is because you lack firsthand experience testifying that my mother is a great cook. In fact, you probably would be concerned about what you might get when you sit down to eat.

With those concerns in mind, where could we both agree to eat? What about the local French restaurant? With prices ranging upwards of $300 for dinner for two, the food there had better be good. And the presentation is likely to be great, with beautiful plates of food and wonderful pizzazz. Not only will you not be apprehensive about eating at the French restaurant, you might even try something that you otherwise wouldn't eat (snails, for instance).

Disaster recovery can be looked at in much the same light. No matter how good your skills, management has no frame of reference that proves you're a good disaster recovery "chef." They're going to be apprehensive and skeptical of your cooking abilities. So what other option could you and your management team agree on today? The corollary to the French chef in this example is an expensive consultant. As with the French restaurant, management expects the consultant to be expensive, and expects that the product therefore will be good.

But is paying $400 an hour for a consultant really in your organization's best interest? Will a consultant know your environment as well as you do? Will you even be able to claim ownership of the business resumption plan after the consultant produces it for you? Notwithstanding the financial impact of such a project, these are some of the questions that you should be asking.

It might be more advantageous to use some of the tricks of the trade that the expensive consultants use to communicate and sell their services. Let's consider some options for proving to management that you know how to cook up a good disaster recovery plan.

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