Once you complete your disaster plan, testing, training and maintenance are essential follow-up activities that must be carried out.

It is critical that your disaster plan is thoroughly tested in all aspects. An untested plan is basically worthless, as it will likely fail under the pressure of an actual emergency. For this reason, it is generally recommended that a structured and comprehensive testing schedule covering at least the following areas is developed:

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  • System recovery
  • Coordination of responsible parties
  • Notification procedures
  • [/list]

    Training is essential to ensure that the people involved are aware of the plan, its possible impact on them and their role within it. This does not, however, only apply to active participants in the emergency processes. In an emergency, it is not unusual for almost every individual in an organization to be affected in some way. Some form of training is therefore necessary for everyone, including practical exercises.

    Maintenance is another commonly overlooked aspect of disaster planning. In a dynamic setting such as a typical business, frequent reassessment and review are essential. This part of the process shouldn’t be left to chance: The maintenance schedule should be formally specified as part of the plan.

    Responsibility for maintenance of the disaster plan will generally be the ultimate responsibility of the planner. As a general rule, the plan should be subject to annual review, although in some cases more frequent or even continuous review will be necessary. In all cases, procedures must be in place to update constantly changing details such as contact information on an as-needed basis.

    Finally, the disaster plan itself should be considered a piece of critical and sensitive documentation. Therefore its distribution should be appropriately controlled, backup copies should be stored offsite, and its contents themselves must be disaster proof.

    How far have you taken the testing of your disaster plan? Do you do it on an annual basis to make sure it is still relevant?

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