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Is the aim of recovering to a minimum business continuity objective acceptable? Tim Dunger argues that it isn’t…

Many of you have recovery time objectives within your business continuity and disaster recovery plans. It’s the desired time for which you will be deemed to have been ‘recovered’. But following a conversation with peers just recently, I have discovered that the point at which an IT system is seen as ‘recovered’ is rarely agreed between them.

To just over 50 percent of the people who joined in the debate, recovery time is the time it takes to get a system up to a ‘minimum business continuity objective’. So, surprisingly, this means that less than 50 percent of people take recovery time to be a state where the business is operating to the same level, and as profitable as it was, prior to the disaster in question.

So what’s the difference?

Well, the minimum business continuity objective was described in the following ways:

  • A point where IT systems are up to ‘some level of capability’.
  • When IT turns over a system to QA.
  • The point when service is returned, regardless of quality or status.
  • The time for a business to be in a position to viably continue.

I found this really interesting, and disagree with all of these being an acceptable point of recovery.

Someone mentioned that there should be further recovery objectives e.g. restoring 30 percent productivity within three days, 50 percent productivity within two weeks etc.

My question is why are we happy for these to be acceptable recovery times? Lack of productivity means loss of revenue, so are we really happy to only be 50 percent productive two weeks after an incident?

I see the only acceptable recovery time to be the point when the business is as operational and profitable as it was prior to the disaster, with 100 percent productivity having been resumed.

In this day and age, with the technology we have – cloud, automation, virtualization, pre-recovery, daily testing - it’s possible to have very fast recovery times to 100 percent productivity without being priced out of the market. With less than half of the experts in the industry believing this is possible, it demonstrates that more education is needed.

The author

Tim Dunger is managing director of Plan B.

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