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Editor's note: For Part I of this article, click here.

What happens when everything you do is critical? Increasingly, for many organizations, that's the situation when they sit down to do disaster recovery or business continuity planning.

Unlike a few years ago, it was easy to isolate a few specific IT systems and applications as critical resources that needed to be protected in event of a natural or man-made disaster. However, most organizations and business processes have evolved to a point where almost every IT application, database and system is critical to the smooth operation of the business. Like it or not, people become dependant on the applications they use every day and getting a business back up and running after a disruption often requires planning to replicate to reproduce all an organizations important applications. For example, even though email was considered an ancillary communication tool in some organizations as recently as five or six years ago, it's probably a critical intra- and extra-company communication mechanism for almost all companies these days.

To help companies plan for overcoming problems or disasters and ensuring the continuity of business processes and IT applications, I've assembled a few tips and recommendations that organizations should consider when doing strategic recovery and continuity planning. I recommend that organizations:

* Take a process approach - Many organizations approach DR or BC as a project-something that they need to do once, and then assume it's completed. With rapid change in both IT and business environments, it's important to use a process approach for strategic business continuity planning-it needs to be continually updated and revised as business requirements change or dictate.

*Set the right expectations - An important part of a good DR or BC approach is to make sure to set expectations correctly. Working with business managers and corporate management to prioritize, decide, and communicate how long it will take to restore specific systems after a problem. Let them know whether it will take 5 minutes or 5 hours to get their email back.


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