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Once upon a time, the three R's pretty much defined schooling. But in the case of business continuity plans, four R's are needed to describe the elements of a comprehensive plan as outlined by Steven J. Ross, director and national leader of Deloitte & Touche L.L.P.'s business continuity practice in New York.
Those four elements are response, react, recover and restore.
In the response phase, "something's happened--what do you do in the very short term--getting everything out of the building, recognizing you have a disaster, invoking the plan?" said Mr. Ross.
The next phase addresses "how do you react," said Mr. Ross. Where do you go, and what resources need to be there? For example, for information technology the phase may mean getting alternative systems up and running or distributing computers to enable employees to work from home, "all of which needs to be preplanned," he said.
In the recovery phase, an entity must ask itself how it will conduct business from its "hot site" or alternate location, said Mr. Ross. Some businesses follow "something of talisman" in assuming "we'll just do everything as we always did, but you don't do everything as you always did," he said. How do you operate your business and your data center during the period of outage? he asked.
Finally comes restoration--returning to the original location when "the lights go back on" or getting a new location. In many ways, restoration "is a planned disaster," he said. "What you're saying is--it's just as difficult to go back as it was to get out--the difference is you have the ability to plan it and get back in an orderly process."