As a Navy veteran, I know the importance of training. That is all that we did in the service, was preparing for the next mission. Hours upon hours, and day after day, we would exercise our response plans to very discreet scenarios. When it came time to use our skills, we were razor sharp in our execution, and it was all because of endless amounts of training. No one hated training more than me. It is mundane and boring, but it will only take one time for you to be thankful that you went through that training and that you were ready for everything.
Recently when the NYSE experienced a three and a half hour outage from a 'software upgrade issue', it was apparent that their rollback procedures, and possibly even their disaster recovery plan were not as complete as they needed to be. Hurricane Sandy showed that existing disaster plans weren't enough. Even most buildings have fire drills once a month. Currently, regulations require firms test their DR plan only once a year. In our rapidly changing environments, is this really enough?
Regulatory, and market fluctuations mandate changes to our technologies multiple times throughout the year. Upgrades, interface changes, reporting requirements, and new software implementations change the landscape constantly. Long gone are the times of ignoring software upgrade cycles for years on end because, "we just don't need it". Even with the increased use of ASP's, and SAAS, they still need to be part of your DR readiness. As these changes come throughout the year, the time has now come to test Disaster Recovery plans on a more frequent basis so firms can be more proactive in the case of an actual disaster scenario.
The annual DR test is still a valid idea when needing to test your entire environment. However, throughout the year, firms can be proactive by testing segments of their critical path that are most vital, such as, dedicated communication circuits, Order and Portfolio management systems, data management, settlement and accounting, and technology infrastructure. These incremental tests will keep your technology and business teams sharp in their procedures and ready to execute when needed.
No one can anticipate when a disaster scenario will occur. However, you can make sure that your firm is prepared. Frequent training and regular testing will enable firms to quickly recover by ensuring technology teams can quickly execute. Remember, proper DR planning will minimize risk to your firm and get you back up and running again with little disruption.