Having Plans vs Being Prepared – Avoid the Oops

I have recently posted a couple of blogs discussing the difference between Planning and having Plans.  In this blog, I want to explore the difference between Having a Plan and Being Prepared.

I have been in a number of environments where I thought the organization had great business continuity or disaster recovery plans – but, I did not believe that they were prepared to recover from a business interruption event.

Most plans rely on a number of “enablers” that have to be in place in order for the plan to be successfully executed.

First and foremost, the physical environment that the plan relies on has to be in place.  I have gone into a number of situations where the Executive Teams were convinced that their planning team had put great plans in place and I had to be the one to tell them that the plans were based on infrastructure not yet put into place.  “Yes, your plan is to recover applications in an alternate recovery site, which is a terrific plan … but you have not invested in or built out that site yet.”  Oops.

Secondly, the plan must be socialized and known by those who must manage to the plan.  I have seen some great plans sitting on shelves, known by only those few who wrote the plan – but all the people that would have to oversee and manage the execution of the plan had never read or been educated on the plan.  Oops.

And, third, in order to really be prepared, you must test, exercise and drill the plan.  It is through tests that you validate the correctness of the plan; through exercises that you discover ways to improve the plan; and through drills that you condition people on how to respond when executing the plan.  I have been in many environments where the plan may be understood by everyone, but never physically put into action to see if it will actually achieve the intended results.  Oops.

So there is much more to being prepared than to simply having a good plan.

Having just passed the anniversary of the D-Day invasion, perhaps that will serve as an example of what I am talking about.  There were relatively few people that actually “planned” the invasion.  And only a few more that were educated on the plan.  But, 10’s of thousands of others that had to “prepare” for it, in order for the plan to work.

It only takes a few people to create a good plan … but, it takes an entire organization to be prepared.

Don’t let your good plans fail because of an oops.

Thank you for your input.