Most businesses, if not all, operate under tight schedules, procedures, processes and budgets. A slight disruption in the smooth operation of a business could have catastrophic effects on its image and bottom line.
Unfortunately, businesses these days are vulnerable to an ever-growing array of potential disasters. Businesses have to be prepared for anything and everything. From cyber threats to natural disasters.
However, even with the best team of experts, limitless resources and advanced tools, it is nearly impossible to completely eradicate all threats. This is because current threats are always evolving while new threats are coming up by the day.
Therefore, in the unfortunate event that a disaster does happen, the continued operation of a business depends on its ability to quickly recover by reinstating key assets and proceeding with normal operations in the face of any disruptions. Businesses heavily rely on data and information to survive and excel. It is crucial that businesses maintain an ability to replicate their IT systems and data as quickly as possible.
A Disaster Recovery Plan outlines all the steps involved in planning for and adapting to potential disasters. It means having a plan which will quickly restore normal operations while negating any long-term impact of the disaster on the company.
A Business Continuity Plan is designed to keep the business running through all manner of disruptions including, IT system crashes, power outages, natural disasters and more, thereby minimizing any short-term negative impact on the business.
Since all risks cannot be eliminated, business leaders have a responsibility to implement the best possible DR/DC plan to protect the business against future threats and prepare for recovery from the worst. Below are the top best practices when creating a BC/DR plan that encompasses all areas in your business.
Best Practices for Businesses Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning for Businesses
1. Maintain Full Copies of Mission Critical Data Outside Your Production Region
If you have your primary data centre in London, do not build a secondary backup data centre just 30 miles down the road. If recent events have taught us anything, it is that closely located data centres are a bad idea. Not only can they be severely impacted by one disaster, data and business services availability can also be hindered in a nearby location.
As a general rule, you should maintain full copies of mission-critical data and services at least 150 miles away from the primary data centre. Although other factors also inform this decision, this distance should be enough to ensure that both centres are not impacted by a single disaster.
Additionally, the two centres should ideally be on separate power grids. In any case, be in touch with an IT consultancy that can guide you appropriately.
2. Have a Plan That Is Consistent and Fully Accessible Even In Case Of a Major Disaster
You could prepare for weeks and months, have the best BC/DR plan in the world. However, if those resources are inaccessible in a time of crisis, it is all useless. The majority of companies tend to document their DR/BC plans in Excel, Word, Video, or as PDF. While this may be a good approach, these files have a vulnerability of not being accessible when it matters.
For this reason, it is important to store the files in a consistently available location. This can be on physical paper, in the cloud, or in a DR planning system. Ensuring that your DR/BC plans can be consistently accessed at any time is equally important as creating the plans in the first place.
3. Update Your DR/BC Plan Regularly To Reflect Any Production Changes
DR/BC plans are designed to serve the business for extended periods of time. A lot can change between the creation of the plan and the time when disaster strikes. You could have the best plan that is well documented, tested and proven.
However, a recent change in process or procedure would render all that work useless and cripple your organisation if a disaster were to strike and the plan has not accommodated the recent changes.
Therefore, it should be a priority for your organization to regularly update your DR/BC plan to reflect and accommodate any changes in production as they take effect.
4. Test Your Plan in a Realistic Way to Ensure That It Actually Works
A plan that is not tested and proven to work is as good as no plan at all. If a disaster were to strike, the plan would most likely fail, leaving you and your employees blind as to which part works and which doesn’t. Your testing should cover all possibilities from one process failing to a complete wipe-out of the whole facility.
The test should result in detailed explanations as to what is working and what is not. Over time, you will perfect your plan ensuring that business continuity is maintained in any circumstance. Testing also offers an opportunity for you to train your staff on recovery which will make things easier in case of a real disaster.
5. Leverage the Benefits of Virtualization
As natural disasters and cyber threats increase in prevalence and severity, failover systems and load-balancing systems are becoming more popular. Virtualization allows you to seamlessly transfer your operations to a secondary environment which creates an illusion that everything is okay.
This will allow the users to continue enjoying your services without interruption thereby preserving your image and protecting your bottom line.
6. Apply Murphy’s Law – Anything That Could Go Wrong Will Go Wrong
No matter how much you prepare your DR/BC plan, nothing can adequately prepare you for the real thing. In most cases, something new and unexpected will happen. This is where your creativity and ingenuity come into play.
Therefore, it is important to explore all possibilities, also referred to as the worst case scenario. Assume everything will go wrong and have contingency plans to counter every sequence of events.
7. Have Several People Fully Trained On the DR/BC Plan
DR/BR should not only be a purview of one IT person or department. Keeping in mind that anything that could go wrong will go wrong, ensure that you have some redundancy with the people who can deal with a disaster. Ideally, also train some people who are outside your production region.
Our IT Department is a leading IT support firm with over 20 years’ experience serving businesses in London and the East of England. We would love to make your journey to a robust disaster recovery and business continuity plan as smooth and successful as possible. Talk to us today to learn more about our services and how we could help you prevent and deal with any eventuality.