The Importance of Disaster Recovery Planning

 


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Picture the scene, its Monday morning and you’ve traversed the morning rush hour and arrived at the office only to find a disaster zone. Over the weekend the office has experienced a fire that has all but destroyed the premises. IT, key documents, plant and machinery – gone – what are you going to do?

Ok so this may be an extreme example but it happens. Disasters and accidents happen every day and affect many businesses some of which fail to recover – don’t put yourself in this situation.

For many businesses and their managers disaster recovery planning never cross their minds, businesses carry out their usual day to day activity unaware of what could happen if disaster struck, but there are some fundamentals that you should consider. The first of which is a disaster recover plan.

The disaster recovery plan should describe how your business will cope in the case of an emergency, what actions will be undertaken and who will co-ordinate them. But what things should go into a plan? In our checklist below we describe some of the things to consider.

Disaster Recovery Checklist.

1. Analyze your business

What systems can be down for what period of time before serious consequences occur. For example if your ERP system goes down and you can’t process sales what’s the impact? With a subjective view you’ll probably find that you can manage without some systems for a while (perhaps upto a week) with other’s you’ll need them back up again as soon as possible. Develop some computer failure procedures to manage your key business activity when IT is unavailable – make sure that copies of these processes are included in the plan.

2. Identify possible risks

Examples of risks to your business include the loss of IT systems, loss of buildings or plant/machinery etc. Detail some mitigation in your recovery plan. For example if you don’t have access to your office in the event of a disaster is there other business premises/temporary accommodation that you can use? If so list appropriate telephone numbers as part of the plan.

3. Recovery team

Put together a recovery team with clear lines of authorization who are responsible for co-ordinating activity in case of disaster. They should be responsible for maintaining your disaster recovery plan and meet on a regular basis to ensure that the plan is still relevant and accurate.

4. Backup your IT systems

Ensure that you backup your IT systems at suitably regular intervals (and test the recovery process!!!) Make sure that any backup tapes/CD’s are stored off site or in a fire proof safe. Make sure the recovery process is documented in your Disaster recovery plan.

5. Inventory your key equipment

Keep an inventory of crucial capital equipment and machinery so that it’s easily identified and replaceable if needs arise. Keep a record of suitable suppliers and contact numbers so that you can use them in an emergency.

6. Identify any external risks

For example if a business partner (perhaps a key supplier?) suffers a disaster what is the impact on your business and how would you mitigate it?

7. Don’t forget the paper

Too many businesses focus their disaster recovery plans purely on IT – don’t forget the impact a loss of paper records may have. How would you manage if all your paper documents are destroyed.

Above all else think about it! – Accidents and emergencies do happen but providing you plan for it and have suitable back up plans and arrangements you’re business need not suffer.

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