Disaster recovery plans (DRP) are written to ensure an organization can quickly and efficiently recover from a disaster or unexpected event which may disrupt its normal operations. These plans are designed to minimize the impact of a disaster by outlining the recovery steps taken to restore operations as quickly as possible. The components of a DRP are the assessment, planning, implementation, testing and review. Once you have completed the planning and have documented the DRP, it is time to conduct a thorough review and testing of the plan. This is essential step in having a well-crafted plan.

A great friend told me this story on the developing a process for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If you ask any given person how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich you will get many different results, here is one result:

  1. Gather your ingredients.
  2. Take out two slices of bread.
  3. Scoop some peanut butter out of the jar spreading it on the bread.
  4. Do the same for the jelly.
  5. Put the two slices of bread together.
  6. Enjoy your delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

A business continuity planner would say, “What a great start!”

My manager would say, “We need it now. Give me minimal viable product.”

Just remember, there is no wrong plan as there is no perfect plan. Get your recovery steps written down no matter how simple they seem to be. More planners have paralysis trying to get these steps document. Just remember to imagine you are building the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Visualize it and say it out loud.

As for the steps above on making our sandwich, it should not take us long to conduct a walk-through of those six steps, right? After gathering the recovery team to conduct a walk-through of our plan, we quickly discovered critical flaws or details left out. Let us review:

  1. Gather your ingredients: You will need bread, peanut butter, jelly or jam, knife, and a plate. (We have added the specific items. Could we go further?)
  2. Open the bread bag, taking out two slices of bread and laying them flat on a plate. (Critical step: “open the bread bag.” Could you add more details?)
  3. Open the peanut butter jar and stir the contents with a knife to make it smooth and easier to scoop. (Critical step: “open the jar” and stir the contents saving time scooping.)
  4. Using a knife, scoop some peanut butter out of the jar and spread it evenly on one slice of bread. (Left out critical component: the knife.)
  5. Open the jelly or jam jar. Using a clean knife, stir the contents to make it smooth and easily scoopable. (Do you wash the knife between steps 4 and 5 or use a second knife? Again, details matter.)
  6. Using the same knife in step 5, scoop some jelly or jam out of the jar and spread it evenly on the other slice of bread. (We have dependency on step 5, otherwise another knife comes into play.)
  7. Put the two slices of bread together, peanut butter and jelly sides facing each other. (Another key detail: “the peanut butter and jelly facing sides.” Again, details matter, otherwise you would have an inside out sandwich.)
  8. Press down gently on the sandwich to make sure the bread sticks together. (Added step to ensure the sandwich sticks together, otherwise the jelly or jam spills out as soon as you lift it to take a bite.)
  9. Cut the sandwich in half, diagonally with either knife, if desired. (Another step added to make handling the sandwich easier, especially if the jelly or jam was laid on thick.)
  10. Enjoy your delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

Do you see the analogy of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and the disaster recovery plan, now? We went from six steps to 10. It is so important to conduct walk-throughs of our disaster recovery plans as there are always important details, we will miss. When we conduct walk-throughs, assembling the entire recovery team members to include stakeholders in the review of the recovery steps, we always discover critical details which have been missed. This missed detail could minimize the impact significantly on business operations. Planning and testing are extremely important. Details matter.


Julius “Jules” Edwards

Julius “Jules” Edwards, MBCP, CBCP, is a senior IT service continuity analyst for Novant Health. He has more than 25 years of experience in the business continuity management space for banking, retail, and health care industries. He is also a veteran of the US Army and National Guard.

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