If you’re reading this it’s probably safe to say that IT, data and computer processes of all kinds are critical to the successful running of your business. Most of the time these processes run quite happily, with server lights flashing silently in the background, providing all the support and resource you need to go about your business.
Things do go wrong, though. Often it’s something minor that puts you offline for a few minutes or so. It’s annoying when it happens and is probably costing you money, but it’s usually easily fixed.
But what if disaster strikes? How would you, your employees, your business and your customers cope if, say, the building that holds your servers burned down, or flooded? What would happen if a vital technical service failed? What if things couldn’t be restored in a day? A week? A month? Would you be able to continue with business as usual? Could you carry on making money?
There are lots of scare stories about how those companies that suffer a disaster and who don’t have a recovery plan, are doomed to long-term failure. But with some simple steps and the right advice, combined with some professional IT services, your business need not be at risk.
Cloud-hosting has made the cost and speed of data recovery much easier for many businesses. But this alone is not enough and you need a regularly reviewed, documented and accessible disaster recovery plan if your business stands any chance of surviving a catastrophic event.
There’s much to consider. Like how you will address customer concerns and keep their hard-earned confidence (and their orders). How will you restore technical services, and software functionality, as quickly as possible? How will you retrieve your data, store it and protect it throughout the emergency? And how will you communicate with your managers, teams and customers?
A robust disaster recovery plan that can withstand any eventuality, big or huge, is best set up in consultation with IT support specialists. They'll cover every base because all businesses are different in size and scope and no single plan can fit them all. Your plan has to be unique.
But there are some basic things you need that must be in every plan. So, here’s the top six things your disaster recovery plan MUST include:
1. Who’s the boss?
Be very clear on who’s responsible for disaster recovery, who will deputise for them and how your disaster-based hierarchy will look and work. They’ll need a primary and backup location from which to coordinate things. And think about appointing roles at a departmental level, making sure everyone is well trained in their responsibilities should disaster strike.
2. What’s left?
You need to know what’s still working, what isn’t and what equipment, people and services are critical to keeping your business running. So make sure you have a complete inventory of all your physical and digital assets so you can quickly identify your first steps. You also need a list of ways you will access backup hardware, software and other services if you need to.
3. What’s the priority?
You won’t be able to do everything at once, so will need to prioritise restoring critical functions, services and departments in some kind of order, based on what makes the most sense to your business and customers. Perhaps getting phones up and running and restoring your customer-facing communications is paramount. Maybe you need your CRM to be running. Perhaps email services are the key. Whatever you decide it’s likely retrieving, recovering and safely storing data will be an early consideration here.
4. Who will you tell?
Decide who needs to know about this, how you will tell them and how often you will update and communicate with them. Also, think about how you can get your workforce up and running again as quickly as possible. For example, where will they be located if their usual place of work is not available and do they have BYOD or other mobile technology to work remotely?
5. How much will it cost?
Disaster recovery will cost you money, and you need to know how much. Careful planning can help you keep control of cash and make sure you don’t spend unnecessarily.
6. How strong are you?
The best way to make sure your business can survive a disaster is to make sure your IT, data and communication services are as strong as possible before it happens.
Creating a disaster recovery plan must be done thoroughly, forensically and in consultation with your entire business. To make yours fit for purpose and to ensure all the technical and IT angles are covered, get some expert help and support. Then test it, practise it and keep it up to date.