Where Do I Begin After a Disaster?
Plan Today for a Stronger Business Tomorrow
There are many scenarios that menace business executives in the restless pre-sleep: security breaches, wondering if their company’s credentials are for sale on the dark web, worrying over the impact of impending volatile weather, concerns over a dissatisfied or malicious employee, anxiety over old or failing equipment and the budget to replace them, the loss of a key employee. These are legitimate fears as the potential for lost revenue and unplanned expenses, customer service interruptions, embarrassment and lowered workplace productivity affects the bottom line. However, these fears should not overshadow the great work your team is doing and distract you from effectively working. Having a well-crafted and thoroughly tested plan will help sleep come and allow you to focus on running your business at speed; disaster needs to be planned for, not ignored. And yet, only 52 percent of all business have a plan in place. Enter: your business continuity and disaster recovery plan.
First Things First: Learn What You Need
One of the most critical and essential obligations of your IT staff is business continuity and disaster recovery planning. Business needs, technical needs, objectives of the business and what the overall vision and function of the business are critical for crafting an effective plan. Disaster can come in a variety of ways: natural disasters, malicious acts, human error, technology failures or other unexpected problems that interrupt or slow down the network or key systems of your workplace. A business continuity and disaster recovery plan based on careful analysis will help keep your business running smoothly and get it back in working order should something unexpected occur. In its optimal form, the plan will help prevent a disaster, anticipate where likely disasters may originate and mitigate the negative impact should one occur.
We have all heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Natural disasters can be mitigated through redundant systems like cloud storage and multiple communication modalities. Are your key systems secured physically as well as through well managed cybersecurity? Are systems still in the prime of their lifecycle and able to be updated and patched? Keeping your tools fresh and ensuring staff training and processes keep pace as your business scales and are baked into the operations allow staff to be accountable and dependable. Staff should be well equipped to identify email phishing, and able to avoid other social engineering schemes that could lead to a breach. These are among the most important first-line preventative security measures.
No one can foresee disaster – but having staff that keep current with emerging security vulnerability trends and who utilize the most current and effective tools certainly help the odds of staying secure. Being proactive and on offense saves time rather than catching up on the defense. Analysis and knowledge of the business and the innerworkings is important to the bolstering of this part of the plan. There is an important line of allowing business to work at speed while still keeping the machinery maintained. Security and planning should not get in the way of the pace of working efficiently. Your IT department should have a good idea of the lifecycle of key hardware to allow operations time to plan resources to replace end of life devices before failure. A good business continuity and disaster recovery plan will be periodically updated and revised based on this information.
To be able to react quickly, recover and respond is key to getting the business back up and running after a disaster. Part of a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery plan will include current documentation of systems, software and hardware. Tests of your recovery plan and strategies should be executed in advance of an unexpected event to ensure their capabilities. Back up equipment, backed up applications and data and hardware configurations should be well documented and included in mitigation measures. Do you have an alternative workplace plan in the case your employees are unable to enter the workplace? Consider the entities with whom your business could cultivate relationships: insurance, public relations, security, employee safety programs and policies.
If you are already experiencing an unfortunate scenario without the virtue of a plan in place, there are a few things you can do. Start where you are. Outsource to professionals experienced in crisis situations who will alleviate the stress and systematically commence the rebuilding process. Build into the operations calendars a time to review and test, while appointing a person or team accountable for the execution. Since 75 percent of businesses without a plan fail within three years of the disaster, having a plan in place is a competitive advantage.