In a phrase widely attributed to Benjamin Franklin, failing to plan is planning to fail. Obviously, he wasn’t referring to today’s technology-driven business environment, but the sentiment couldn’t be any more relevant. If you’re not prepared for a cyberattack, natural disaster, or other IT failure, then there’s a chance your business could end up closing its doors for good should the worst happen.
Every business needs an effective and up-to-date disaster recovery (DR) plan. In some industries, it’s even a legal requirement. But regulations aside, a robust DR plan pays dividends in terms of peace of mind.
Should an IT outage occur, a good DR plan minimizes the long-term damage to your organization. With the right technology at your disposal, it’s usually possible to get back to normal operations in no time.
#1. Identify your most vital assets
Protecting mission-critical IT should always start with an audit and assessment phase. Beyond creating an inventory of this hardware and software, you also need documentation of organizational policies that affect them.
After everything is consolidated, assign priority levels to every entry. Vital assets might, for example, include payment processors or a hardware firewall. But don’t stop there — your people are the most important resource of all.
#2. Build your DR team
One of the biggest DR planning mistakes we see is when people place too much emphasis on IT when the focus should really be on how your people use technology. If disaster strikes and people don’t know what to do, your DR plan worthless. If your documentation filed away in a dusty drawer, you might as well not have one at all.
Every DR process requires strong teamwork, which also means you need to establish the roles and responsibilities from the outset. It’s also important to update the plan whenever a key person changes job roles or leaves the company.
#3. Conduct an impact analysis
Now comes the exciting part. Imagine the worst-case IT disaster and estimate the short- and long-term impacts they would have on your business. The scope of these threats and their impacts depend on many factors, such as your industry and geographical location.
For example, businesses stretching from West Palm Beach, Florida to Charlotte, North Carolina are vulnerable to hurricanes. What would happen if a hurricane rendered your office inaccessible? How would you respond to that? You need to think about these scenarios to determine the best ways to mitigate their adverse effects.
#4. Define your recovery objectives
Your recovery objective is a measurement of how much data you’re prepared to lose. Could you recover from losing everything created in the last eight hours? What about in the last 24 hours?
Next, you need to quantify the maximum amount of time it should take to get your systems back up and running. Would it be possible to stay in business if your employees didn’t have access to their work for five whole days?
Different systems and processes will have different recovery objectives depending on how important they are to your business. For example, an email server outage would be far worse than a paper jam at the printer.
#5. Test and refine your plan
A plan that’s filed away and left to collect dust isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. The same goes for untested plans. Every year brings a new set of IT challenges, as well as opportunities for preventing a disaster. DR plans should be updated whenever a major change is made to your operational infrastructure. Always ensure any contact details are up to date, and that it covers all your existing mission-critical systems.
In-Touch empowers you to achieve business objectives and avoid downtime with the help of cutting-edge technology. Download our free disaster recovery eBook to learn more about protecting your business from catastrophe.
Download our free eBook!
Technical failures, natural disasters, and cyberattacks can cost your business a lot of money. Read our free eBook: 7 Rules Even the Most Basic Backup & Disaster Recovery Plan Must Follow and learn how to prepare your business for the worst.