We have all heard the various clichés: “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” “The best defense is a good offense.” A disaster recovery plan can help minimize the impact when things go wrong. According to Geoffrey H. Wold, a disaster recovery plan is “a comprehensive statement of consistent actions to be taken before, during and after a disaster.” He lists the benefits of having a disaster recovery plan as:
- Providing a sense of security
- Minimizing risk of delays
- Guaranteeing the reliability of standby systems
- Providing a standard for testing the plan
- Minimizing decision-making during a disaster
- Reducing potential legal liabilities
- Lowering unnecessarily stressful work environment.
Nothing can eliminate all risk related to a disaster. Having a plan in place to help recover is a wise investment to make. There are three basic areas to consider: preventative measures, detective measures, and corrective measures. How can proposal professionals apply these basics of a disaster recovery plan to mitigate the impact of a disaster?
- Preventive measures attempt to identify and reduce risk.
There are preventative steps the proposal team can take to mitigate the odds of experiencing a disaster. These steps include:
- Make sure someone in the Contracts and Legal departments of your company review the entire RFP, especially the contract clauses, to identify any potential conflicts of interest or contractual issues that could raise risks for your company if you bid.
- Keep a backup of your proposal files. Even if you are using a document repository, there is still the possibility the server could go down and hold your files hostage. Back up the files regularly either to a second server, to the cloud, or even on your desktop.
- Ask for a preventative maintenance check of your printer and/or copier when a big production job is on the horizon. If you have to make five copies of all proposal volumes for submission, and the Technical Volume alone is 250 pages, having a technician make sure the printer or copier is in tip-top shape will mitigate the possibility of it crashing in the middle of production.
- Schedule color review teams early, and send invites to identified participants. Make sure they are available to participate and have the review on their calendar. Invite more reviewers than you think you need; some people may have to decline at the last minute. Having a few extra reviewers on the bench gives you the assurance you will have enough participants.
- Have alternate contact information for critical team members. If you need to contact the Cost Analyst or Capture Manager for an emergency on a Saturday afternoon, it helps to have a cell phone or even a home phone number to call
- Detective measures attempt to identify any unwanted events.
The purpose of detective measures is to uncover any potential threats. These activities can include:
- Conduct just-in-time training early in the process, before RFP release if possible, to improve the skill level of any members of your team. For example, helping a new employee become familiar with your specific proposal processes or an inexperienced writing understand the various components of writing a good proposal section, such as ghosting, win themes, hot buttons, and discriminators.
- Use the daily status meeting to determine if any issues will impact progress on the proposal. For example, a writer indicates that her government customer has her working on an emergency project, thereby limiting her time to work on the proposal for a few days. Obviously the customer’s work is her first priority; however, if it will impact her ability to meet a critical deadline, knowing sooner than latter enables the Proposal Manager to find an alternative way to get the proposal work finished on time.
- Make sure all computers in the War Room, as well as the team members’ laptops are equipped with up-to-date virus software and are using appropriate surge protectors and.
- Change the pass code for any secure work areas after each proposal to ensure only personnel who need access have access.
- Corrective measures return things back to their original condition after a disaster.
Restoring things to their original condition after a disaster occurs is why the disaster recovery plan includes corrective measures. Examples of corrective measures include actions taken after evaluating processes and events during a lessons learned debrief, such as:
- Identifying modifications to documents, templates, or processes to save time and resources.
- Scheduling group training sessions to improve or enhance the overall skill levels of employees supporting the business development lifecycle.
- Purchasing systems or software to streamline processes or work flows.
Any steps you can take to avoid disaster, mitigate risk, or implement steps identified during lessons learned to restore things and ensure the issue doesn’t occur again will continually improve your processes.
 Wold, Geoffrey H. (1997). “Disaster Recovery Planning Process”. Adapted from Volume 5 #1. Disaster Recovery World.