Guide for Developing a Disaster Plan - Introduction

This guide for developing a disaster plan was prepared to assist University of Missouri departments, as well as, individuals managing records, information systems, and those responsible for the protection of their department's information resources.

Disasters come in many flavors. Unfortunately, we do not get to choose our favorite flavors, nor do we get to select the time when we will be ready to sample their varieties. By their very nature, disasters are sudden, unexpected, and unwanted. Some, such as those resulting from faulty wiring or leaky plumbing, can be avoided; others, such as floods, tornados, and winter storms, cannot. One aim of this guide is to assist individuals in preventing disasters from becoming catastrophes -- events that result in great destruction or irreplaceable loss.

The main premise of this guide is that no disaster plan can be transplanted intact from one campus, program, or even department, to another.

Records Management has not prepared a model plan that could be easily adapted for departmental use because such an approach violates the basic principles of sound records and information management. We are well aware there is no one single records classification system, retention schedule, or vital records program that is suitable for all departments, even within a single industry. A model plan approach would ignore the important role that local resources and conditions, such as available freezer space, fire protection, and weather patterns play in information disaster planning.

This guide presents some key presuppositions, concepts, elements, practical considerations, benefits, and steps that go into disaster planning. The application of the guide and wise use of its contents can provide the needed framework for a department to implement a comprehensive disaster prevention and recovery plan.

The importance of a written disaster recovery and vital records plan is also emphasized. The very process of writing the plan is an exercise in sound information management.

Reviewed 2011-03-29.