4 Steps to Securing Your Business IT Systems Before a Natural Disaster.
In over 35 years of deploying and managing information technology systems in businesses, if there is one thing we've learned, it's that disasters happen and you'd better be prepared if you expect your business to survive. In this post we will give you 4 steps to take to create a Disaster Recovery Plan for your business that, if implemented, will get your business back up and running quickly in the event of a disaster, be it natural or human caused. We've also included our Disaster Planning Guide Template as a good starting point.
Why is Disaster Recovery important and why are we stressing the need to correctly back up your IT Systems before a disaster strikes?
Only a few weeks out from Hurricane Ian, all of us in the IT world here in Utah are feeling the stress of "what if that had been us?" Sure, hurricanes are not something that we would ever have to deal with but other natural disaster happen in Utah such as blizzards, flash floods, and let's not forget that we live on a HUGE fault line. These cataclysmic events always weigh heavy on our minds but what about the more common "disasters" that can occur daily in your business? Things like hardware failure and power failure can take down your IT systems and as a result, bring all business operations to a halt. Keep in mind as we go through the steps to create an effective disaster recovery plan for your business that you are preparing for the highly unlikely and highly destructive scenarios but you are also getting it in place to tackle the more likely ones too. A short take away is that as you develop your DRP there is a high probability that you will end up using it at some point in the future.
Step #1: Put together a Disaster Recovery Team.
As with anything that we don't know how to do, the task of putting together a Disaster Recovery Plan can be overwhelming. Our advice, don't try to do it alone. Grab a few employees and create a Disaster Recovery Team whose job is to oversee, develop and implement the procedures included in your DRP. Step #2: The success of your Disaster Recovery Plan is in the details.
When crafting your Disaster Recovery Plan it is important that you are very specific and include even the smallest details. Instructions should detail not only WHAT is to be done following a "disaster" event but also WHO is responsible to do it. Assign the tasks to specific people within your company, this is where a team really helps. As your plan is developing don't forget to document EVERYTHING.
Who is in charge of communicating with clients?
What role will the "disaster" plan in your vendor's businesses and who needs to address those issues?
Who takes the lead on restoring the major operations systems?
These are just a few examples of areas that will need to be planned out because when disaster strikes and each second that passes means lost revenue, you will be glad that you don't have to figure out who is responsible to do what. Step #3: Test, test and retest.
This tends to be the most overlooked step and, at the same time, the most effective step for keeping your business ready and prepared. You have taken the time to build a team, develop your Disaster Recovery Plan and implement it within your business...then you check it off your to-do list and wipe your hands clean of it. This is a BIG mistake! In the event of a disaster, when stress levels are already high, the last thing that you want to deal with is using your plan for the first time. The cliché "practice make perfect," is overused for a reason, because it's true. By practicing your Disaster Recovery Plan you and your team will discover any flaws that need to be addressed.
Step #4: Work with a Professional.
Working with an MSP, Managed Service Provider, will take the guesswork out of implementing a Disaster Recovery Plan. Disaster recovery takes time and resources within your company that might be better used actually working on your business. The time spent will add up quickly, especially if technology is not where your expertise lies. For this reason, small and medium sized business are using MSPs for assistance with disaster recovery planning, implementing and training. A professional MSP will put together a plan that will address every area of your business tailored to the exact needs of your organization in the event where disaster recovery and business continuity are critical. In addition, MSPs have tools like cloud computing, back up monitoring and external server databases that keep the cost of your disaster recovery planning to a minimal.
As we come to a close just remember that disasters come in all types and sizes and when it strikes it's too late to get that plan in place. We hope that you found these steps helpful. We have also put together a Disaster Recovery Planning Template to get you started. Whether you use these resources or not just promise me that you will get something implemented in your business asap.