Project Description

Is your Disaster Recovery up to scratch?

The funny thing about many Disaster Recovery (DR) plans is that, just like an insurance policy, they make the most sense… during or directly after a disaster. It is a plan identifying certain risks and mitigating them. Then setting out a course of action for optimal recovery. And just like an insurance policy, you want one in place before a disaster strikes. You’ll then be well prepared for an orderly return to business as usual.

By this point you’re probably nodding your head in agreement: a DR plan just makes good sense. It should be part of a much broader Business Continuity Plan (BCP). DR typically focuses on restoring IT systems and data, while the BCP targets overall business resilience. This goes for any business, from the smallest to the largest.

But…

Kerrin Hopkins – Key Account Manager

Kerrin Hopkins – Key Account Manager

In my rounds with various customers, it turns out DR hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Most have given it a thought, sure. Some even have a semblance of a plan – though it’s often years out of date.

There are many reasons for this. The biggest probably being that people have too much on their plates.

Which is fine, right up until – in a disaster-prone country – something goes awry.

Now, disaster comes in many shapes and forms. Floods and earthquakes, absolutely. Those are big, headline-grabbing events. But seemingly inconsequential developments are more likely to catch you out. For example; the power being down, internet outages, a ransomware attack, hardware failure or even a burst pipe at your office. A myriad of little things can cause big problems for individual businesses.

We also tend to over-estimate our coping ability until an actual disaster strikes. In one case, my customer said they had a recovery resilience of 4 days. When disaster hit, they realised their recovery time objective was closer to 4 hours!

Get onto your plan without delay

Another factor with DR plans is the idea that they are going to cost money. They might, but so do many other risk mitigation strategies. It’s about considering the total cost / impact to your business in a disaster. Then investing sufficiently to get through it.

Note the plan should be a ‘living’ document. Living, because things change and sometimes quite quickly. For example, switching to a new ISP without updating the DR plan could waste time looking for solutions in the wrong place when connectivity goes down. At CodeBlue we generally advise reviewing DR plans at a minimum of annually, but preferably on a 6-monthly basis.

Some ideas for your plan include identifying crucial infrastructure and services. Then gauging the impact on your business should those facilities become unavailable. (Bear in mind as outlined above, what you think in theory might differ in practice).

Move on to risk identification. Which events are most likely, and how will you mitigate them? What are the recovery procedures, and who is involved?

This may lead to additional facilities or redundant connections as deemed necessary. Most importantly, going over everything with a fine-tooth comb means that when something does go wrong, you’ll have a reference manual for what to do.

Get everyone on the same page

I’ve mentioned that a DR plan is a living document. It is also something which should regularly circulate among executives, managers and staff.

This can’t be stressed enough. Not only will people in different positions recognise different risks – and can therefore contribute to their mitigation. It also means that when something goes wrong, everyone knows what is expected of them and what to do.

It’s well worth considering a dry run, of at least some aspects of the DR plan. Simulating an earthquake is hard, but cutting the internet unexpectedly is easy (and probably more cost effective). An exercise of this nature can be instructive, particularly if it is done without forewarning. There’s nothing quite like ‘reality’ to get the blood pumping, while gauging your people and systems’ readiness for ‘business unusual’.

The DR plan in other words, is the very essence of thinking ahead. Even a minor disaster can cause panic and stress. Having a clear idea of the necessary actions, reduces that stress. And gets you back on an even keel faster.

Finally, if DR hasn’t been something high on your radar, I can’t stress enough to give it the attention it deserves. Most of us have landed in the ‘if only I’d insured that’ basket before. It’s not something you want happening to your business. If you need help formulating, building or testing a DR plan, get in touch. We’re always happy to help.

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