When technology professionals discuss disaster recovery (DR),
it usually only involves planning for technology resources like servers and
data. But there are other factors to take into consideration when creating your
DR planning, not the least of which is your Human Resources (HR) department and
staffers. The human element can play a tremendous role in technology recovery,
and you shouldn’t neglect it.

There are two areas HR can help you with. The first is to help
you identify which employees in other departments you’ll need to include in
your DR planning discussions. The second is in training your employees to
respond in an emergency situation.

Unless you have only one or two servers, your DR planning will
be useless without knowing which systems need to be protected and at what
levels. You’ll need to get the input of the various business units to fully
understand what the DR plan needs to cover. HR staff can assist you in finding
the key personnel that will help you find out the Recovery
Time and Recovery Point Objectives
of the individual business units. In
many cases this could be the department head, but this person will almost
certainly delegate the task. Failure to involve HR staff could result in you
getting handed further and further down the corporate food chain until you’re
stuck with a very knowledgeable underling who has either no power to make
decisions, or no access to make them in an informed manner. The result could be
a misguided importance being placed on systems that make sense to the staff
person, but aren’t all that important to the business unit itself.

End users must be prepared to follow the DR plan

After a disaster strikes, your DR plan should be able to bring
up the appropriate data systems in the prescribed amounts of time, based on
their importance. However, if the end-user community hasn’t been prepared with
clear instructions about their roles in the event of a disaster, your DR plan
will still fail.

Employees need to be informed well ahead of a disaster about the
policies they must follow to get back in business. For some employees, this
means they should know where the secondary facility is located, what backup
equipment is available to them, or what kind of remote access they will have to
the recovered data systems.

Only certain people from a given business unit will get that
level of IT support. The decision as to who will get set up at these alternate
locations is generally highly political, so leveraging the HR staff’s expertise
can both alleviate the burden on your department and allow someone else to make
the hard decisions that have nothing to do with technology.

You will also need the assistance of HR in training users how
to use the DR systems and how to access components, such as alternate Web addresses
or other technology. This may mean additional training resources, or policy
briefings in HR manuals; all of which will be well out of the hands of the IT
department, though you will probably have to consult with them.

Working with the HR department on your DR plan is not an
option—it is a necessity for all organizations (except perhaps the very
smallest IT shops). Even if the HR “department” is one person, you
must bring him or her into the loop. HR will allow you to carry out your technology
contingency plans without the fear of leaving anyone behind.

How well can your organization deal with an emergency? Automatically sign up for our free Disaster Recovery newsletter, delivered each Tuesday, and make sure you’re prepared for the next catastrophe.