Staffing issues are generally not considered in creating and
managing a disaster recovery (DR) plan, but they can have a dramatic impact on
how well your plan performs in the event that it is needed. IT professionals
are sometimes taken
for granted, and individual roles within the department aren’t well
understood, which can lead to some severe problems if disasters strike.
Summer is a very popular time for vacations. These breaks are
a necessary part of working life, as overworked and exhausted employees tend to
perform much less effectively than their counterparts who take vacation time. The
problems arise when critical IT employees, who have responsibility for
components of the DR plan, are on vacation when a disaster hits your organization.
There are several strategies to avoid the problems that this would cause.
First and foremost, no single person should hold sole responsibility
for any particular aspect of your DR plan. Job security aside, there’s really
no reason to invest all that power in the hands of a single staff person. Each
aspect of the overall plan should be performable by at least two people, both
of whom are adequately trained to perform the tasks they are responsible for. This
is true even if a particular task would be considered “secondary” to
their normal responsibilities; otherwise you could find yourself with an
improperly trained employee at the switch.
You will also have to ensure that not everyone who can perform
vital functions goes on vacation at once. This might sound like a no-brainer,
but with multiple persons all requesting time off in overlapping schedules, it’s
very easy to accidentally leave one or more aspects of your DR plan without the
proper employees to perform them. No matter if you use seniority, past vacation
time, or any other factor to figure out who goes on vacation when, you still
must be ready to draw the line and ensure that all aspects of the
plan are properly staffed.
Of course, if there is only
one person in your organization responsible for the whole plan—perhaps because
you have only one IT staffer—you have a lot more difficulties than larger
firms. It will be difficult, but you will have to make sure that non-IT
personnel can either perform the basic operations necessary, or find some other
way to let that staffer take some very well-deserved break time. Failure to do either
will result in either no one who can enact the DR plan during an emergency, or
an IT staffer who is frustrated, overworked, and much more likely to jump ship.
All employees, including IT staff, need some time off to
recuperate from the day-to-day grind. This doesn’t mean that your DR plan takes
a vacation along with them. Take staff needs into account, cross-train when you
can, and always remember the human factors that make up your technical recovery
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