The quotation “No plan survives first contact with the enemy…” is likely to resonate with any IT executive faced with using their IT DR Plan for the first time. The chances of any plan instantly fitting the situation are negligible, leaving nowhere to turn. Instead, rather than consume the golden hour reading and adapting, many choose to discard it in favour of an ad hoc experiential response.
The extended quote adds “… what matters is how quickly the leader is able to adapt” and is equally relevant. It recognises that even if the exec has read the plan, the emerging situation will still demand specific untried changes to achieve an acceptable outcome and may still fail. Again, rather than experiment, the temptation is to “save time” and dispense with the plan.
Acting on experience provides a tolerable solution for a minority of critical situations but carries significant risk. Firstly, if it transpires that any critical resource cannot be recovered in time, the organisation may find itself in unacceptable territory. Secondly, if the plan is ditched, all participants then rely on the exec for all strategic and tactical guidance, creating a communications bottleneck in the heat of a crisis, with all that entails. The implication is that all IT DR plans, and role assignees need frequent and thorough testing.
Inoni provides desktop and simulation testing for scenarios we develop collaboratively with clients, familiarising all potential participants with the planned response. This has the effect of significantly diluting the first contact problem, providing opportunity to learn, collaborate, fix gaps, and resolve assumptions, promoting joined-up behaviour when an incident occurs.
Tests are arguably the only reliable way to develop resilience maturity. They start softly, navigating guided baseline scenarios, then gradually build, delivering increasing challenge and diversity. This creates momentum, familiarity, and maturity. It improves plans and participant capability to the point where each test becomes procedural, requiring minimal facilitation and a high success rate.
Tests offer a powerful way to create or update IT DR Plans, leveraging them to engage IT subject matter experts in writing and then validating often complex technical recovery plans that would otherwise never be recorded. These component plans are referenced by scenario-specific Runbooks to provide an end-to-end seamless IT DR response.
Inoni’s approach to IT DR Testing carries many advantages, including:
- Predicated on capability maturity with continual improvement
- Plausible, with factual detail embedded in accepted risk scenarios
- Realistic with professionally facilitated role play
- Developmental, driving the creation and validation of technical recovery plans
- Convenient, requiring acceptable levels of management time
Customers see significant benefits arising from tests, including:
- Validating the organisation’s ability to respond to a major disruptive incident
- Validating the planned response, identifying potential improvements
- Familiarising staff with their roles, relevant capability, plan content, interpretation, and use
- Creating buy-in to continual improvement and creation of a resilient culture
- Providing evidence of commitment to stakeholders.