Project Methodology

DRP/BCP Case Studies and White Papers  |  Deliverables

The project methodology or approach consists of eight separate phases

Phase 1 - Pre-Planning Activities (Project Initiation)

This initial phase is used to obtain an understanding of the existing and projected computing environment of the organization. This enables the project team to: refine the scope of the project and the associated work program; develop project schedules; and identify and address any issues that could have an impact on the delivery and the success of the project.

During this phase it is recommended that a Steering Committee be established. The committee should have the overall responsibility for providing direction and guidance to the Project Team. The committee should also make all decisions related to the recovery planning effort. The Project Manager should work with the Steering Committee in finalizing the detailed work plan and developing interview schedules for conducting the Security Assessment and the Business Impact Analysis.

Two other key deliverables of this phase are: the development of a policy to support the recovery programs; and an awareness program to educate management and senior individuals who will be required to participate in the project.

Phase 2 - Vulnerability Assessment and General Definition of Requirements

Security and control within an organization is a continuing concern. It is preferable, from an economic and business strategy perspective, to concentrate on activities that have the effect of reducing the possibility of disaster occurrence, rather than concentrating primarily on minimizing impact of an actual disaster. This phase addresses measures to reduce the probability of occurrence.

This phase will include the following key tasks:

  • A thorough Security Assessment of the computing and communications environment including personnel practices; physical security; operating procedures; backup and contingency planning; systems development and maintenance; database security; data and voice communications security; systems and access control software security; insurance; security planning and administration; application controls; and personal computers.
  • The Security Assessment will enable the project team to improve any existing emergency plans and disaster prevention measures and to implement required emergency plans and disaster prevention measures where none exist.
  • A thorough Infrastructure Assessment will evaluate networks, communication systems and host and server systems for their resilience to failure; their fail-over and recovery capability.
  • Present findings and recommendations resulting from the activities of the Security Assessment to the Steering Committee so that corrective actions can be initiated in a timely manner.
  • Define the scope of the planning effort.
  • Analyze, recommend and purchase recovery planning and maintenance software required to support the development of the plans and to maintain the plans current following implementation.
  • Develop a Plan Framework.
  • Assemble Project Team and conduct awareness sessions.

Phase 3 - Business Impact Assessment (BIA)

A Business Impact Assessment (BIA) of all business units that are part of the business environment enables the project team to: identify critical systems, processes and functions; assess the economic impact of incidents and disasters that result in a denial of access to systems services and other services and facilities; and assess Maximum Allowable Outage, that is, the length of time business units can survive without access to systems, services and facilities.

The BIA Report should be presented to the Steering Committee. This report identifies critical service functions and the timeframes in which they must be recovered after interruption. The BIA Report should then be used as a basis for identifying systems and resources required to support the critical services provided by information processing and other services and facilities.

Phase 4 - Detailed Definition of Requirements

During this phase, a profile of recovery requirements is developed. This profile is to be used as a basis for analyzing alternative recovery strategies. The profile is developed by identifying resources required to support critical functions identified in Phase 3. This profile should include hardware (mainframe, data and voice communications and personal computers), software (vendor supplied, in-house developed, etc.), documentation (IS, user, procedures), outside support (public networks, IS services, etc.), facilities (office space, office equipment, etc.) and personnel for each business unit. Recovery Strategies will be based on short term, intermediate term and long term outages.

Another key deliverable of this phase is the definition of the plan scope, objectives and assumptions.

Phase 5 - Plan Development

During this phase, recovery plans components are defined and plans are documented. This phase also includes the implementation of changes to user procedures, upgrading of existing Information System operating procedures required to support selected recovery strategies and alternatives, vendor contract negotiations (with suppliers of recovery services) and the definition of Recovery Teams, their roles and responsibilities. Recovery standards are also developed during this phase.

Phase 6 - Testing/Exercising Program

The plan Testing/Exercising Program is developed during this phase. Testing/exercising goals are established and alternative testing strategies are evaluated. Testing strategies tailored to the environment should be selected and an on-going testing program should be established.

Phase 7 - Maintenance Program

Maintenance of the plans is critical to the success of an actual recovery. The plans must reflect changes to the environments that are supported by the plans. It is critical that existing change management processes are revised to take recovery plan maintenance into account. In areas where change management does not exist, change management procedures will be recommended and implemented. Many recovery software products take this requirement into account.

Phase 8 - Initial Plan Testing and Implementation

Once plans are developed, initial tests of the plans are conducted and any necessary modifications to the plans are made based on an analysis of the test results.

Specific activities of this phase include the following:

  • Defining the test purpose/approach;
  • Identifying test teams;
  • Structuring the test;
  • Conducting the test;
  • Analyzing test results; and
  • Modifying the plans as appropriate.

The approach taken to test the plans depends, in large part, on the recovery strategies selected to meet the recovery requirements of the organization. As the recovery strategies are defined, specific testing procedures should be developed to ensure that the written plans are comprehensive and accurate.