Resolve to create and update your disaster recovery strategy in 2016

The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time for setting resolutions and tackling those goals with vigour. As the year progresses, unfortunately, many of these resolutions fall by the wayside. But whether or not you make it to the gym or go on more holidays, as many Britons have resolved to do this year, there is one goal you should set and keep for your business: creating and/or updating your disaster recovery (DR) strategy.

Creating a DR plan is an important step in minimising financial loss and threats to your company’s survival in the event of a business interruption. To be effective, your DR plan should outline how you intend to address a business interruption before, during and after the disturbance occurs. The goal is to minimise the disruption of critical functions, recover operations successfully and provide a sense of security for your employees.

Ask yourself the following questions to assess your DR strategy and identify areas of improvement.

Is management on board?

If top management isn’t involved in the planning process, your DR plan is less likely to be a business priority in terms of time and budget.

Do you have an established planning committee?

You should include representatives from each department of the company in discussions about your DR strategy to ensure you consider all the aspects of recovery after a disaster.

Have you completed a risk assessment?

With the help of your DR planning committee, perform a risk assessment that includes a range of disaster scenarios, such as inaccessibility of data, loss of communications, an uninhabitable facility, etc. After developing these scenarios and determining how they affect each department in the company, assess the associated costs.

Have you ranked departmental priorities?

To remain operational after a business interruption, each department must maintain different critical functions. You should know what these functions are and rank them as essential, important or optional priorities.

What are your recovery requirements?

Once you know what your business’s recovery priorities are, identify its recovery requirements. Decide whether or not backup resources, such as equipment and a secondary facility, will be provided in-house or by a third party.

While in-house recovery strategies give you more control over solution specifications, keeping up with maintenance, depreciation and replacement costs can be expensive. Contracting a third-party provider can help reduce the overall expense of purchasing and maintaining recovery resources.

Have you established a testing schedule?

Testing your DR plan regularly allows you to identify areas within your DR strategy that need revision, address missing recovery steps and prepare your staff before a disaster occurs. Performing a practice run of the DR strategy prior to a business interruption helps your staff know what to expect when a real disaster occurs, which helps ensure a smooth recovery of your business operations.

By making the effort to create and actively update your DR strategy, you can prepare your business to function and serve customers in the midst of a disaster. That’s one resolution you can’t afford to abandon.

Matt Kingswood, Head of ITS UK

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