There are plenty of uncontrollable circumstances that can cause your business to experience downtime. This could be a natural disaster, cyber-attack, power loss, equipment failure, supplier fault, damage to your business phone lines or simple human error.
Whilst you can't prevent these events from occurring, a well thought out disaster recovery plan will ensure uptime, diminish data loss, maximise productivity and will guarantee that your business stays up and running in any eventuality.
When looking at disaster recovery planning it is important to take a broad approach and look at how a disaster will impact employees, customers, internal processes, business premises and business critical technologies and systems. If you and your management team can come up with a mix of resiliency tools and put effective solutions in place, your operation should experience minimum downtime.
1. Safeguard your internet connection and telecommunications system
For many businesses, your internet connectivity and communications system set up is one of your most valuable assets. It’s how you receive business, keep customers happy and how you communicate with your suppliers and internal personnel across multi-sites. Your disaster recovery plan should include at least one of the following:
- Install a second Broadband line
- Invest in a PAYG dongle which can be loaded with data
- Install twin back-up/failover lines
- Set up call diverts
2. Consider moving all business-critical work and personnel to a replica site
Technology is so sophisticated these days that it is relatively easy to set up an exact replica of your head office at an alternative site. Investing in backup SIP lines will mean that calls to the affected office can be re-routed in a matter of minutes which will limit downtime and damage to your reputation.
3. Think about how to keep client information safe
An increasing amount of data and information is stored online and is vulnerable to cyber crime. Ample consideration should be given to how this information is stored and controlled. This is key to guarding against damage to brand reputation should this information get into the wrong hands or breach privacy laws.
4. How you will back up databases or replicate your entire system
Business interruption can have a negative impact on revenue, therefore it is vital that you have a good backup in place. You should consider investing in cloud-based storage systems which are accessible from any location so long as you have access to the internet and can allow for seamless migration between on-premise and the cloud at the push of a button.
5. Consider the human factor
Your employees are sometimes responsible for data losses. We’re all human and occasionally, even with the most diligent and highly skilled people on your staff, mistakes can happen. Your disaster recovery plan should include extensive staff training and investment in a robust backup solution to minimise risk the of human error.
6. Test risks around systems failure
With sufficient testing of your business-critical systems you should be able to identify where the risks lie and come up with a strategy around a course of action should your worst fears be realised.
7. Develop a communications strategy
A loss in communications connectivity or enforced downtime could downgrade customer service levels and mean that you are at risk of damaging information being leaked. Your communications strategy should include how your employees communicate any issues to clients. It is also advised that you nominate a disaster recovery champion who will deal with information transfer to the general public, the board and any other stakeholders.
8. Examine options for an alternative power supply
Your disaster recovery plan should include steps that should be taken in case of a power outage. Invest in a generator or UPS to keep your system alive in the event of a power loss.
9. Develop an internal training programme
Once you have considered all of the above you will need to carry out a comprehensive training programme which ensures that employees know what to do if a disaster should arise. This should include training on communicating with clients and ensuring that facilities and IT managers know exactly what to do if a disaster occurs.
10. Think about the reinstallation process
In the event of a disaster, your focus will be on finding short term solutions and limiting immediate reputational damage. Your plan will need to mitigate against any longer-term damage to your business systems and processes and budget for work required to reinstate systems and buildings to former levels.
Investing time and energy in a robust disaster recovery plan and managing business risk might seem like a daunting task but is well worth it for the long-term sustainability of your business.
If you are interested in finding out more about the risk mitigation strategies covered in this article, please get in touch with one of our experts on 03330 433233.