Unless you have a rock-solid backup and disaster recovery strategy, your business could end up closing its doors for good in the event of a serious incident. In fact, according to FEMA, 40% of businesses never reopen after a disaster, and another 25% fail within one year. Business continuity planning is imperative to prevent your organization from becoming another statistic. Here are five things you need to know before you start:
#1. Identify your recovery goals
You can’t expect to entirely mitigate the effects of an unforeseen incident, but you can figure out how much your business can afford to lose in a worst-case scenario. That’s why the very first step in disaster recovery planning is to get a better picture of your risk tolerance and build your strategy around that. The two most important metrics in any backup and disaster recovery program are the recovery point objective (RPO) and the recovery time objective (RTO). These refer to the amount of data you can afford to lose and the maximum amount of unscheduled downtime your business can tolerate. In most cases, you’ll assign different values to individual systems based on their importance to your operations.
#2. Develop training and awareness programs
Backup and disaster recovery are much more about people and processes than technology, so your strategy will only work if people are fully aware of their roles and obligations. Everyone on your team needs to know who to refer to and what to do in the event of an incident. Always incorporate staff awareness training into your budget since disaster recovery is worthless if all you have to show for it is documentation that no one even knows exists. The more straightforward and better documented your plan is, the easier and cheaper it will be to achieve the support of your team.
#3. Implement policies and procedures
Setting goals alone is nothing more than wishful thinking. You also need a clearly documented plan for achieving those goals. Your backup and disaster recovery procedures should not only complement one another, but they should also prioritize your goals and provide a step-by-step plan for getting affected systems back online and recovering data. For example, to meet the demands of your RPOs, you’ll want to integrate things like cloud backup and file synchronization to your regular business operations. If you can’t afford to lose more than a day’s worth of records for a particular business process, then you’ll need to choose a backup solution that can accommodate that.
#4. Establish a liaison with external parties
Many businesses rely on dozens of third parties, which often complicates backup and recovery processes. While vendor management should always be treated as a core business routine, it’s even more important that you have a dependable way to contact any relevant third parties in the event of a disaster. If, for example, a mission-critical system managed by a third-party provider goes offline, you will need to contact someone. You’ll also need a liaison for other external parties like regulators, emergency responders, financial institutions, insurance providers, and your customers.
#5. Think beyond information technology
Unforeseen incidents don’t just bring direct financial loss to companies; they can also cause serious brand damage and, in the case of data breaches or foul play, the possibility of litigation. Although technology plays a role in almost every facet of the modern business, it’s important to think beyond IT and develop a process to mitigate damage to your brand and wider business operations. For example, you’ll need a way to carry out media relations to minimize adverse publicity. All of these processes should be documented in your business continuity planning. Remember, there’s a lot more to think about than just backing up data.
Founders Technology Group provides backup and business continuity services and advice to organizations in Connecticut and North Carolina. Call us now to arrange your first consultation.