If your business has ever been affected by an event such as the current flood crisis in the UK and recent closing of the Forth Road Bridge between Edinburgh and Fife, you likely wouldn’t argue that it’s crucial to have an effective disaster recovery (DR) strategy in place. However, while creating a DR plan is a great start to minimising financial loss and threats to your company’s survival in case of a business interruption, that’s only step one. If you create your plan and then neglect to test, adapt and review it, you risk overlooking defects in your DR strategy that, like the Forth Road Bridge, can crack under pressure.
To be effective, your DR plan should include the actions to be taken before, during and after a disturbance to minimise the disruption of critical functions, recover operations successfully and provide a sense of security for your employees. With it being the start of a new year, what better time to take steps to create or update a DR plan for your business? Below are some of the important elements your DR strategy should include.
The commitment of top management
Top management must be involved in the planning process, because they will be able to provide the time and financial resources necessary to help the DR plan be effective within your organisation.
An established planning committee
Considering all the aspects of recovery after a disaster is necessary, so representatives from each department of the company should be included in your DR planning committee to oversee the plan’s development and implementation.
A risk assessment
Once the DR planning committee is established, they should perform a risk assessment. The assessment should include a range of disaster scenarios, such as inaccessibility of data, loss of communications, an uninhabitable facility, etc. After developing scenarios and determining how they affect each department in the company, assess the associated costs.
Ranked departmental priorities
Each department must maintain different critical functions to remain operational after a disturbance. Identify what these critical functions are and rank them as essential, important or optional priorities.
Your business’s recovery strategy should reflect its individual recovery requirements. The first decision to make is whether or not backup resources, such as equipment and a secondary facility, will be provided in-house or by a third party.
While in-house recovery strategies give the planner more control over their specifications, it can be expensive to keep up with maintenance, depreciation and replacement costs. Contracting a third-party provider can help you save on the overall expense of purchasing and maintaining a backup facility and equipment.
Test and evaluate your DR plan regularly to identify problem areas that need revision, address missing recovery steps and prepare your staff before a disaster occurs. If your staff has already walked through a disaster scenario, they will know what to expect when a real disaster occurs, making your business’s recovery a smoother operation.
DR planning should address all of the aforementioned criteria to help you prepare for a disaster so your business can continue to function and serve customers.
Matt Kingswood is the head of ITS UK, a managed IT services company owned by Reynolds and Reynolds.