C. Kajwadkar (Global) - Importance of Risk Assessment in DR Planning

Risk Assessment is one of the most important steps of preparing a Business Continuity and DR Plan. Now why is it important? A comprehensive risk assessment activity will help any organization understand the kind of threats it can be exposed to, the possible extent of damage and therefore the required steps for damage control. It is akin to an eye-opening exercise; a good Risk Analysis and Assessment helps throw insight into how each functional area of a business would be impacted in the event of a disaster and therefore, it also helps in prioritizing recovery plans based on the criticality of the functions.

The most important function of a risk assessment process is to pre-determine the possible scenarios of disaster and then steps that the organization will take to recovery in the event of each. Listing out disasters is a challenging task, the list will never seem to be comprehensive enough and it will need constant updating. One way of handling this effectively is by using a good tool that will help you cover all kinds of disasters while working on risk assessment.

Another important role Risk Assessment performs is ‘thinking through' the worst-case scenario: the complete destruction of a business's main or head office, its lifeline. It helps the business evaluate the extent of damage and think through the recovery process in the event of this worst-case scenario.

While performing Risk Assessment, the bottom-line is how any event or mishap would affect the business, the infrastructure and the company in general. A good risk assessment should have plenty of "what-if" scenarios. Risk Assessment may also involve testing procedures, which must be conducted in a proper method and environment for measuring the results effectively.

If we had to break down a Risk Assessment process into steps, the five steps below would more or less cover it.

1. Identify the risks, be proactive and examine the risks and the potential damage it could cause. Go through case studies to understand the extent of damage such incidents have caused in the past.
2. Establish facts as to what might be harmed and how. Infrastructure, intellectual property, people.....exactly determine what kind of harm might be caused to each of these factors in the event of a disaster, and in the event of a worst-case scenario.
3. Evaluate the risks and get a fix on precautionary measures.
4. Document all the analyses and deductions in detail and all the inferences from the Risk Assessment exercise
5. Review the Risk Assessment plan periodically and make the necessary updates.

Risk Assessment is probably the most important part of planning business continuity in the event of a disaster. The greater it covers risks, types and solutions in detail, the better prepared your business is when disaster strikes.

India was a little slow to adopt risk assessment in DR planning as a concept but it is starting to pick up. A NASSCOM Newsline Survey on Disaster Recovery and Information Security strategies of Indian IT-ITES companies, which drew widespread response, showed just how serious these organizations were about deploying best practices in these areas. Besides pointing to the robust Disaster Recovery practices of Indian IT-ITES companies, the NASSCOM Newsline Survey also indicated that strong Information Security frameworks were an important priority for vendors to assess risk associated with unexpected emergencies. In fact, almost all IT-ITES companies that participated in the NASSCOM Survey stated that they were armed with the relevant IS certifications Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans, which they believed were critical to their operations and overall business success.

C. Kajwadkar, Chief Architect & Vice President, Availability Services at NetmagicSolutions



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