Most disaster recovery plans are silent about communication. The silence on this point can be deafening. Disasters often spin out and multiply for the simple reason that someone failed to communicate in time or they failed to communicate effectively. It is therefore, imperative that every disaster recovery plan has an integrated disaster communication plan that is tested, tested and again tested in different disaster scenarios.

Disruption of communication can be disastrous in emergency situations. This is especially true when your business is threatened into extinction by natural disasters. Floods, fires, storms, hurricanes, or typhoons can destroy your data centers or business premises and cause all communication lines to be cut off. You need to keep a level head and ensure that communication remains clear and effective up and down the lines of your disaster recovery teams, even if the roof has been blown off.

Disaster communication plans must take into consideration the possibility that communication lines may be disrupted. They should consciously define all disaster related activities around this awareness.

Communication plans must be built around a set of simple codes. There may be no time for complicated communication in disaster situations. Personnel must be trained to understand these codes and act on them without waiting for detailed instructions for each activity.

Roles and responsibilities of disaster recovery team members should be clearly defined. Everyone in the team must know exactly what his / her responsibilities are and what is expected of them! They should not be distracted or panicked into neglecting their duty just because they are unable to communicate with their immediate superior or peer in the chain. They should be conscious that execution of their role will automatically keep the links intact and will help the overall implementation of the disaster recovery plan that was envisaged for the said disaster.

Team members should also be trained to communicate clearly and succinctly, so that the right action is taken at the right time. They should remain calm and take the necessary steps to mitigate the impact of the disaster. They should not take any action that will multiply the impact of the disaster and lead to large-scale data loss for the enterprise. Once the situation is under control, they should communicate with their trouble shooting teams or service providers. Experience shows that imperfect communication or panic stricken communication causes the most damage in disaster situations.

Testing plans that evaluate communication plans should be iteratively implemented to ensure that communication does not break down due to unexpected parameters or situations that were not envisaged in the original plan.