It’s an uncertain world out there. Big storms lashing coastal cities, viruses running rampant through the workforce, hackers and malware ranging the internet freely. There’s no question that something might happen to your information technology (IT) infrastructure and systems one day… the only question is: what and when.
Most companies rely heavily on the advantages that information technology delivers in efficiency, communication, and accuracy. When those systems go down, even for short periods of time, a lot of money and a lot of hard-won reputation is on the line.
That’s why every modern business needs an IT disaster recovery plan. But the difference between a good plan and a bad plan has everything to do with the contents. If yours doesn’t include these components, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Engaging managed IT services at an early point in the process can pay big dividends down the line.
Step 1. Conduct a Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
You need to know what you are protecting and what the likely threats are first.
Common questions to ask about your business include:
- Is your main office in a floodplain?
- Are power outages frequent?
- What could happen if your branch office is cut off from internet service for a week?
A comprehensive risk assessment and business impact analysis asks not only what might happen, but what the second- and third-order effects of those disasters might be.
Having a solid BIA in hand determines priorities for IT security and disaster recovery preparation. For instance, if you find that the company can operate just fine without access to one particular system for a week, you can invest planning and data backup resources in guarding other more important systems instead.
Step 2. Build an Inventory of Hardware and Software Systems
To know what you are protecting, you need to know what you own. That means you need a comprehensive, top-to-bottom hardware and software inventory.
Just as important, it needs to be accessible and up-to-date. It’s not good enough to send an intern around to make a list once and then paste it into the DR plan; instead, you need to put in place effective systems to document new acquisitions and changes on a regular basis as they occur. Then you must keep the data backup online and available off-site in case of emergency.
The list should include not just the obvious computers and office software, but also the less obvious infrastructure you count on, such as phone systems and copy machines. It should also have information on support and assistance on where to obtain replacements if necessary.
Step 3. Assemble an In-Depth Incident Response Team
Your staff should be prepared for disaster as well. Clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities that will need to be filled in a major emergency, and then create the list of all staff who can fill each of those roles.
You don’t need to have just one person for a role either; you should have a deep bench and the ability to go down a list until you find a team member who is available and unaffected by the emergency.
Determine who will:
- Make decisions on things like business relocation, etc.
- Monitor sales and cash flow
- Have access to secure systems or the ability to grant authorization to others
- Complete various tasks in each department to restore operations as soon as possible
Part of building the team is familiarizing people with their potential roles ahead of time. The plan should be distributed to each possible team member. This allows them to meet ahead of time so they are familiar with their respective responsibilities before disaster strikes.
Step 4. Develop Comprehensive Disaster Response Procedures
A strong communication plan and clear disaster recovery procedure are crucial for your IT services to come back online quickly. With an Incident Response Team selected, the next step is to create a strong, clear, and simple procedure for recovery efforts.
If you work with managed IT services providers, as many organizations do today, the procedures must also include interfacing with their systems, ensuring that not only is your data backed-up, but that there is a fail-over solution in place so your staff can continue to work on premises or remotely if necessary.
Talk to a Managed IT Service Provider
If you don’t currently work with a managed IT services provider, it’s time to think about doing so. Truewater is one of the best options you’ll find in the business. With our years of experience, you can engage a reliable IT support partner that will not only help you plan for disaster recovery, but also serve as a managed service provider dealing in both IT support and network management on a day-to-day basis. Truewater has the expertise and resources to help you plan for any contingency. In a disaster, getting it right the first time counts.Contact Us to Get Started on Your Disaster Recovery Plan Now