How to Determine Recovery Time Objectives

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Without a plan, disasasters are even more debilitating

When disasters strike, responsible businesses are prepared to recover in the least amount of time possible. Recovery time objectives are the specific timelines businesses determine as the acceptable amount of time before a company is performing a particular function as it did prior to the disaster. There are some specific steps in determining recovery time objectives.


    • 1

      Gather information technology and business operations professionals to discuss the recovery time objectives. Within the same company there are often multiple schools of thought on what is important to run and maintain business functions. Professionals may also clash on what exactly is an important business function. Leaders across the company must come together and commit to developing a plan that will address every business function. A comprehensive plan will allow to company to act with as much confidence and knowledge as possible when a disaster occurs.

    • 2

      Divide business processes into critical groups. Payroll, sales, accounts payable and customer service call center are just some of the areas that provide critical business functions. Each organization has its own make up that divides important functions into specific group. As a group, decide what the distinct functions are so the resources allocated to each of those groups can be determined. Software applications, hardware, personnel and vital equipment used within specific departments are easily isolated so recovery time objectives are achievable.

    • 3

      Discuss timeline options for each critical group. Once departments are divided by the agreed upon groups, determine the critical nature of each function. Determine which functions must begin immediately and which can wait. Decide in what order departments and functions will be brought back to operation. The strategy used to develop a one hour recovery time objective is different from the one for a recovery time objective of five days. Inherently, shorter recovery time objectives may be more expensive and require more resources.

    • 4

      Run tests to determine if real time objectives are realistic. Once timelines are created for vital business functions, test them to see if the function can actually be recovered near the time objective. If a server backup is determined to be the plan when payroll computers go down, run the test and shut down the payroll computers on the main server, then determine how it takes before payroll data is accessed and used again to return to payroll function.

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