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Norfolk Southern Best Practice in Project Implementation

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Norfolk Southern, a shipping and transportation company in Atlanta, GA, had a strategic objective of implementing a disaster recovery system for its data systems and networks. Disaster recovery has taken on greater significance after September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the hurricane damage of 2005.  Norfolk Southern worked with top-rated vendors to select best-in-class systems that would serve as the backbone for the disaster recovery system. Norfolk Southern has another data center in Dallas, TX that makes it well suited geographically for replicating IT operations. The design captured data when it is written and is replicated at the other end of the network.

One important element in the project implementation is the priority of recovery time. The table lists the service-level classification: 


Business process services

Recovery time objective


Customer/partner facing systems and applications

Zero to four hours


Less critical revenue producing functions, such as supply chain

Eight to 24 hours


Enterprise back office functions.

Three days


Departmental functions.

Five-plus days


The ultimate key to successful implementation of the disaster recovery system was testing. Only 6% of companies polled indicated that they perform the level of testing that Norfolk Southern does. (Connor, 2006).

Companies can learn from this example and try to emulate concepts proven at Norfolk Southern. Companies can work with top-systems vendors and develop an integrated development system that will provide transparency to the development system of an effective IT initiative. Like the experience at Norfolk the system needs extensive testing to assure the companies that all business objectives will be met on schedule.


YouSigma. (2008). “Norfolk Southern Best Practice in Project Implementation." From

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