Expecting any process to run flawlessly the first time that it’s implemented is not realistic, and disaster recovery is no exception. Planning is the first step in successful DR, but testing is also an important piece. The following points are best practices for DR testing.
Establish a core disaster recovery team
Implementing a disaster recovery plan is stressful. Individuals on the DR team should be able to lead under pressure and remain calm while delivering results.
After the team members have been identified, each individual should be cross-trained. In an instance where the entire team cannot make it on-site to implement the recovery strategy, the rest of the team should be able to continue to operate efficiently.
During DR testing, establish scenarios and goals
When testing DR plans, set specific goals for the team in order to evaluate effectiveness – examples include beating a set response time or implementing the plan with zero errors.
In addition, create realistic scenarios to provide for the team. Painting a realistic picture of the problems that could potentially occur help DR team members understand how to respond appropriately in different situations.
Involve business stakeholders in DR strategy and testing
Stakeholders should always be aware anytime scheduled downtime will occur. They can also provide a unique point of view by providing feedback as services are restored.
After a test is complete, report the success back to the stakeholders. They’ll appreciate seeing the return on the investment in DR planning – and they’ll know what to expect if ever a true disaster strikes.
Practice makes perfect. Learn from mistakes – and keep testing
The goal of DR testing is to understand how to implement a recovery plan during a real disaster. If the tests don’t run as planned, it gives the organization the opportunity to make changes and perfect the process.
DR plans should be tested once per year, at minimum. The more frequently tests are run, the more likely a plan will be implemented without error in a real disaster.